McLemore a Key Cog in Homestand

The fourth-year guard enjoyed his best stretch of basketball this season during the last six games at home.
by Benedict Tagle

This past homestand, Ben McLemore was one of the bright spots of the Kings roster. His improved play during the six-game stretch helped Sacramento to a 4-2 record, with impressive wins coming against Playoff teams like Golden State and Boston. He scored in double-digits in five of the past six, making it his best stretch this season.

His contributions to the team came in more ways than just scoring. During the homestand, McLemore posted better numbers than he has the entire season.

McLemore’s rebounding and assists numbers during the recent stretch at Golden 1 Center were higher than his season averages. The high-flying guard contributed on the defensive end, defending players like Klay Thompson, Dwyane Wade, and Devin Booker. In addition to his man-to-man defense, he played a key role in the passing lanes, averaging 1.67 steals per game.

With the help of solid performances, including setting a new season-high, the fourth-year guard averaged 13.3 points, doubling his season average.

His scoring was highlighted by his comfort level on the court. He played self-assured, showing joy after practically every made basket. After the most recent win against New Orleans, the former Kansas standout attributed his morale as a boon to his improved play.

“Just playing with confidence,” he said. “It’s on a different level right now.”

His confidence is shown in his performances, as he shot 46.7 percent from the field and 50 percent from long distance during the homestand.

Instead of dribbling or passing, he exhibited confidence in his own ability to score in this recent stretch. On catch-and-shoot opportunities, his makes from downtown increased to 51.6 percent. Overall, his effective field goal percentage on catch-and-shoot attempts was 69.4 percent.

No. 23 also showcased a new offensive savvy against opposing defenders. Using the pump fake to knock the opposition off balance, McLemore oftentimes took advantage, making one dribble to move into a comfortable position for an open shot. On field goal attempts following one dribble, he connected on 58.3 percent of his shots.

Another noticeable improvement during the homestand was his ability to find the gaps in the defense. With the attention often placed mostly on DeMarcus Cousins and Darren Collison, McLemore capitalized.

“I’m looking for shots, being in the right position for DeMarcus and DC to find me,” he shared.

When defenses left him wide open, the shooting guard made opposing teams pay. Over the six-game stretch, he made 63.6 percent of three-point field goals when given at least six or more feet of space On two-pointers, he was flawless, not missing a single shot. This combination adds to a comic-like 96.7 effective field goal percentage when afforded that amount of freedom.

As the team builds momentum in its play, the fourth-year guard hopes to mirror it in his performance.

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