The first shot Ben McLemore made in a Lakers uniform was a third-quarter 16-foot jumper in Thursday’s shorthanded loss to the Heat in Miami. It must have felt strange for McLemore. Last season, playing for Mike D’Antoni in Houston, McLemore was all but forbidden from shooting midrange field-goals and attempted only one 2-point shot from outside the paint.
That midrange ban was lifted with new coach Stephen Silas in Houston, but still, McLemore did not make many midrangers this season before he was released by the Rockets—he was 4-for-17. Thus, already, one game into McLemore’s Lakers tenure, we can see a slight shift in his approach.
Ben McLemore's 1st FG as a @Lakers was a 16-footer on the right wing. He's 1-4 shooting.
Last year in Houston, he took 545 FGs. Exactly ONE was a midrange shot — everything else was a 3 or in the paint.
— Sean Deveney (@SeanDeveney) April 9, 2021
McLemore was 1-for-4 in the game, missing all three of the 3-pointers he attempted, not a good sign for a guy brought in to bolster the team’s perimeter attack. Still, we checked in with two scouts for a breakdown of McLemore’s game and what to expect from him going forward.
McLemore’s Shooting Form
West scout: “I saw him in high school in Missouri, before he went to (Kansas). You could watch him then and see he just had the smoothest form. Great elevation, always stayed straight up and down, very good release. Some compared him to Ray Allen and that was too far, but he does have that very deliberate, quick, catch-and-up style of shooting. He could never live up to expectations coming out of college, going to the Kings (with the No. 7 pick in 2013), but when he got to Houston, D’Antoni sat him down and told him, ‘You’re a 3-point shooter, you focus on that.’ And he did, and it worked beautifully last year.”
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East scout: “He needs to catch-and-shoot. He is deadly as a catch-and-shoot guy, and having him on the wing with LeBron, that is going to be huge for him, like playing with (James) Harden was huge for him. He just needs a little daylight, some breathing room, and he’ll create a good look that way. The Lakers just don’t have that kind of guy.”
McLemore’s Shot Selection
West scout: “Watch for the corner 3s. That is where he wants to shoot it from (31.0% of all McLemore’s career 3-point attempts were from the corner, and he’s made 42.1% of them). He was struggling with that this year but last year he was a really, really good corner 3-point shooter that last couple of years and you have always got to be mindful of that. You can play off of him because you know he is not going to put the ball on the floor, but you had better close out your contest quickly or he will make you pay. He was never much of a rim-attacker, that will probably hold true.”
Ben McLemore didn't hit the 3, but Lakers fans will get used to him catching and shooting without hesitation.
He made all 3 of his free throws btw. pic.twitter.com/MXxpdimLKp
— LakeShow Highlights (@LA_HighLights24) April 9, 2021
East scout: “I mean, Houston was really, really thin last year but they still slashed his playing time (almost by half, from 22.8 minutes to 11.8 minutes) in the postseason. Why? Because he is small (6-foot-3), not a lot of wingspan, and not a very good defender. Or even a good defender. If he is on the floor, (the opponent is) going to pick on him. So Houston benched him last year, when they lost in the first round of the playoffs, but now you’re telling me he is going to get a big role for the Lakers in the playoffs this year? It’s a stretch. The D is going to hurt.”
West scout: “You’ve got to just live with the defense. He is not great. But that team needs shooting and they need to find ways to get outside scoring from the bench unit. That is what McLemore can add to this group.”