• daltonpence

Ben McLemore is Making a Comeback in Houston

Bill Baptist/NBAE via Getty Images

It’s safe to say that Ben McLemore has not lived up to the hype that came with being the seventh overall pick in the 2013 NBA Draft. In six seasons (split between the Sacramento Kings and Memphis Grizzlies) the Kansas University product has only averaged double-digit scoring figures once over the course of a full season, which was back in 2014-15.

Since then, his role and minutes have both taken hits; last season McLemore only appeared in 19 games for the Kings, averaging a mere 3.9 points per game in 8.3 minutes of nightly action.

So when the Houston Rockets signed the shooting guard on a two year deal that was partially guaranteed, many viewed it as the team merely taking a flyer on a player who has been known to occasionally stroke it from long range.

McLemore had different plans. Through 39 games, the 26-year-old is averaging 10.2 points per game on 36.6% shooting from three-point land; although those numbers don’t scream "breakout" they do prove that he is more than capable of possessing a significant role in a playoff rotation.

Averaging over 10 points per contest with James Harden, Russell Westbrook, Eric Gordon, and Clint Capela is no easy feat; offensively, McLemore is proving to be just what the doctor ordered in H-Town. The spacing and backcourt depth he provides are luxuries for the Rockets. With the regression of Danuel House Jr and shooting woes of PJ Tucker, McLemore has been one of Space City's most valuable rotation pieces this season.

McLemore currently ranks among the league’s top 20 in total three-pointers made this season (97), and he has cracked the opening unit, having already started 11 games for Houston. To make matters more interesting, he is currently second in the NBA with a 117.3 offensive rating, trailing only Luka Doncic. Averaging 24.2 MPG, McLemore leads the Houston Rockets with a +226 in the Plus Minus category.

The harsh reality is that he more than likely won’t live up to the expectations that were attached to him when he came into the league. However, McLemore has shown in Houston that when he is playing to his strengths, he is a true asset to a playoff-calibre rotation.

Despite playing some time as a small forward in Houston’s system, his three-and-D identity has fit the Rockets’ offensive run-and-gun persona. His ability to drive and penetrate is often overlooked, as is his spectacular athleticism; he possesses all the tools to have a successful NBA career as a rotation wing.

Sometimes a change of scenery, the right locker room, and a well-fitting system can do wonders for a player who has seemed to have lost his way. McLemore’s resurgence is a feel-good story for some, but the Rockets plan will include utilizing him even more in the latter half of the 82 game slate.