‘He Was Our No. 1 Choice’
Following Sacramento’s selection of Ben McLemore and Ray McCallum in the NBA Draft, get reaction from Ranadivé, D’Alessandro, Malone, Kings fans and more.
Kings Draft Headquarters and the team’s Draft Viewing Party rejoiced in unison on Thursday, as Sacramento selected Kansas guard Ben McLemore – a consensus Second Team All-American and a First Team All-Big 12 selection – No. 7 overall in the 2013 NBA Draft.
“How excited are you guys about Ben McLemore?” asked Kings Majority Owner Vivek Ranadivé, as an elated crowd cheered following the announcement of the team’s first-round pick.
“He was our No. 1 choice, and we were frantically in (Draft HQ) trying to trade up to the No. 2, 3, 4 slot,” he continued. “As I’ve said before, seven is my lucky number. When I was with the Warriors, we got (Stephen) Curry and (Harrison) Barnes at seven. My birthday is on the seventh, the Mayor, (Kevin Johnson), was picked seventh – he wore No. 7 – and we got the best player in the (Draft) at seven.”
McLemore – a gifted athlete and formidable outside scorer who’s drawn favorable comparisons to 10-time All-Star Ray Allen – characterized being picked by the Kings as an exhilarating beginning to his NBA journey.
“I’m happy I got selected and am going to be a part of the Kings, and I’m just blessed to have the opportunity to be a part of (this team),” said the former Jayhawk. “I’m ready to head down there and see everybody, the organization and the fans.”
The athletic and highly-efficient 6-foot-5 freshman finished third in the Big 12 in scoring (15.9 points per game), and ranked among the conference leaders in free-throw accuracy (87 percent), three-point percentage (42 percent – second) and field-goal percentage (49.5 percent – eighth).
“I think I could impact (the Kings) a lot,” said McLemore. “(I’m) just coming in with the winning mentality – helping my team win more games and helping the organization and go down the line and win a championship.”
Kings General Manager Pete D’Alessandro revealed the talented Kansas guard was not only the team’s primary target, but also a player he personally ranked as the top prospect in the 2013 Draft class.
“Ben is a special player – he’s someone our staff spent many hours watching, evaluating and debating,” said D’Alessandro. “(He’s) the one player we were sure about as this process began.”
Kings guard Isaiah Thomas – who posed for photos and signed autographs for numerous purple-and-black-clad fans at the Draft Viewing Party – was pleasantly surprised the St. Louis, Mo. native was on the board at No. 7.
“He’s an up-and-coming star,” said Thomas. “He’s a guy who’s a great athlete and he’s a good shooter from the three-point line. He’s going to be a great talent for us and he’s going to help us a lot.”
Reigning NBA MVP LeBron James shared a glowing assessment of the Kings draftee and new coaching staff via his Twitter account.
Mike Malone and Chris Jent will be perfect for Ben McLemore. Love those 2 guys in Cleveland— LeBron James (@KingJames) June 28, 2013
Inside Sleep Train Arena, fans exuded similar enthusiasm after watching Commissioner David Stern announce Sacramento’s first-round choice on KingsVision, as well as giant HD projections screens set up around the court and concourse.
“(McLemore) was probably a top-three pick in everybody’s mock drafts, so I’m surprised he went that low – but I’m so happy with it,” said Cap City Kingdom Rookie Member Francisco Padilla. “I think he’ll help a lot and I can’t wait to watch him play. It’s going to be exciting.”
“There was talk of them trying to move up to get McLemore and Vivek has been saying that pick No. 7 was his lucky number, so it’s just a great start for the new ownership and this team,” said longtime Cap City Kingdom Member Brandon Miller. “I can’t wait for the start of the season – there’s a lot of high hopes and it feels good.”
Throughout the evening fans enjoyed the festive atmosphere as Kings Dancers performed routines and distributed prizes, while Slamson entertained the crowd. Kings great Mike Bibby drew a boisterous standing ovation upon stepping on the hardwood where he once knocked down countless clutch jumpshots.
“It feels good to be here – (the team) asked me if I’d do it, and I couldn’t turn it down,” said the former Sacramento guard. “It’s good to see some old friends and just to see (the place where I) made my career.”
For Don, a first-time Cap City Kingdom Member, meeting one of his favorite players was one of the night’s many highlights.
“Getting to see Bibby was a lot of fun – to have him come back was awesome,” he said. “I’ve enjoyed (tonight) in so many ways.
“I just love the way the players, the ownership and the community are bonding with the fans. I’m willing to drive two hours one way (from Modesto) to go see a Kings game!”
Before the celebratory evening drew to a close, the Kings nabbed Detroit guard Ray McCallum – a three-time All-Horizon selection and 2013 Horizon League Player of the Year – with the 36th-overall pick.
“(McCallum is) one of the classiest, classiest young men you’ll ever meet and a heck of a player,” said D’Alessandro.
The Lute Olson All-American led the conference in scoring (18.7 points per game) and steals (1.9), while finishing second in assists (4.5) and assist-to-turnover ratio (2.2) and sixth in field-goal percentage (49.1 percent).
As the Kings strive for all-around improvement, Head Coach Michael Malone believes both draftees will make a significant impact on the court and in the locker room.
“A goal of mine for this team this year will be, let’s get better every day,” said Malone. “One thing I can say very confidently is that we got better today by (adding) the two young men we drafted – from a talent perspective (and) from a culture perspective.”
Ranadivé came away similarly pleased and impressed with the results of the first Draft conducted by the new-look Kings front office.
“I think this is the best Draft the Kings have had in years,” he said. “I think it’s a Draft we can be proud of.”
WATCH: Kings Select Ben McLemore
WATCH: Ben McLemore – Draft Party Reaction
WATCH: Vivek on McLemore Selection
WATCH: Ben McLemore Highlights
WATCH: McLemore Answers Fan Questions
WATCH: Ray McCallum Highlights
WATCH: Sacramento Kings Post-Draft Press Conference
- Stay current with Kings.com for details regarding an upcoming introductory press conference for Ben McLemore and Ray McCallum.
How excited are you about Sacramento’s newest additions?