If the Sacramento Kings have their way, they will find out before the season ends exactly what rookie shooting guard Ben McLemore can do for their franchise.
Both words and actions from the organization this week displayed Sacramento's interest in keeping the 21-year-old around long enough to see his full potential.
As reported by Jason Jones of the Sacramento Bee, the Kings showed their belief in the rookie out of Kansas, not only by openly dispelling trade rumors (a prominent one had McLemore as part of a package to land Boston point guard Rajon Rondo), but also dealing away Marcus Thornton, who had been the team's starting shooting guard.
Thornton's former spot in the lineup is McLemore's now, and clearly management wants to see what he does with it.
The Kings (18-36), last in the Pacific Division out West, aren't going to make the playoffs. So Sacramento coach Michael Malone will be watching closely during the next couple of months:
“My main thing moving forward is Ben McLemore,” Malone said before Wednesday’s game. “And that’s no disrespect to anybody, but we drafted Ben seventh, and it’s been an up-and-down season for him at times. But with these last 29 games, there’s no pressure on this team. I want us to play together, I want us to play the right way. I want us to have fun, and I also want to have a great opportunity to see Ben, Ray (McCallum), Carl (Landry) and Derrick (Williams). Especially to see what they’re able to do with the last 29 games.”
In McLemore's return to the starting lineup Wednesday against Golden State (he started 26 games earlier this season), he found himself in some foul trouble, only played 19 minutes and went 1-for-4 from the floor with four points and four rebounds.
In 54 games, the 6-foot-5 rookie has averaged 23.2 minutes, 7.5 points, 2.8 rebounds and hit 36.5% of his shots, 33.3% of his three-pointers and 78.6% of his free throws.
Blake Ellington at SactownRoyalty.com breaks down some of McLemore's issues on the floor, which have included "disappearing" for long stretches, playing passively and lacking consistency on his jumper.
(Disclaimer: Steph Curry does that to lots of people.)
The rookie's next opportunity to prove he should be part of Sacramento's core for the future comes Saturday night against Boston — the game can be seen on NBATV, at 9 p.m.
For more on McLemore, listen to an interview he did with Fescoe in the Morning, on 610 Sports Radio.
McLemore's interview begins at about the 32-minute mark and he talks about adjusting to the NBA, the slam dunk contest at All-Star Weekend, hearing about trade rumors and taking the next step in his career.
In 'Hawks no longer in the NBA news:
Roughly a month after Brooklyn traded him and New Orleans waived him, it appears Tyshawn Taylor is through with the D-League for this season.
Taylor had signed with the Maine Red Claws, and only scored five points in his last outing on Wednesday night.
The next day, news began to pop up on Twitter about Taylor signing with a club in Puerto Rico.
In eight D-League games this season, Taylor averaged 9.6 points and 3.4 rebounds.
He averaged 3.9 points and 1.6 assists in 11.7 minutes a game for Brooklyn.
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