Kings Blog

Kings look for Ben McLemore to be more consistent

Sacramento Kings’ Ben McLemore, center, passes to teammate Rudy Gay (8) as San Antonio Spurs’ Tiago Splitter (22) pressures him during the first half of an NBA basketball game, Wednesday, March 4, 2015, in San Antonio.
Sacramento Kings’ Ben McLemore, center, passes to teammate Rudy Gay (8) as San Antonio Spurs’ Tiago Splitter (22) pressures him during the first half of an NBA basketball game, Wednesday, March 4, 2015, in San Antonio. AP

It’s been about highs and lows for the Kings shooting guard Ben McLemore.

On Wednesday night in Charlotte, McLemore scored a season-high 27 points less than a week after failing to score in 21 minutes of playing time in Orlando.

Predicting which McLemore will show up is difficult. He can be spectacular, as he was against the Hornets, or invisible, as he was in going 0 of 5 last Friday against the Magic.

Some inconsistency is expected from McLemore, a second-year player who has much to learn at the NBA level.

But McLemore is too talented not to have an impact in every game. The Kings must figure out how to get more out of their skilled shooting guard.

McLemore said the key to finding his game is a clear mind.

“Just stop thinking about stuff and going out there and playing my game,” McLemore said. “Limiting everything, all the distractions, just going out there and playing, doing what I did (Wednesday) and doing it on a consistent basis.”

Kings coach George Karl said the goal for McLemore, as for most second-year players, is to play solidly in two-thirds of his games. Karl, in his 26th season coaching in the NBA, said it’s rare for a young player to dominate every night.

“Ben has to become (a player who), when he doesn’t play great, he still plays a solid game,” Karl said. “Right now he’s up and down, above the line, below the line. His down games have to be at an upper level.”

McLemore is averaging 12.2 points this season on 43.5 percent shooting. He’s averaging 14.2 points on 39.8 percent shooting in 11 games under Karl.

It’s been said McLemore is at his best when he’s able to get the ball early and score, and does not settle for jump shots. When he stands on the perimeter and does not attack the basket, it hurts him and the Kings.

McLemore said getting enough shots is not a primary concern.

“I’m going to get my looks off Rudy (Gay) and DeMarcus (Cousins), in transition, off defensive plays,” McLemore said. “I’m going to find my looks, but it definitely helps to get a couple shots, a couple touches to get going for me to continue make plays over the course of the game.”

Karl wants McLemore to be more than a scorer. Right now, he doesn’t shoot well consistently enough to rely on that aspect of his game.

McLemore often has a tough defensive assignment, too, having dealt with the likes of Victor Oladipo, Dwyane Wade and Kyle Korver on this eight-gametrip that wraps up Saturday night in Washington.

“Being at the two-guard position is a tough night every night,” McLemore said. “I’ve got to focus on the guy I’m going against, lock in, make defensive plays and (do) whatever it takes to help the team win.”

Karl wants McLemore, like all of the Kings, to explore his entire game.

“Ben has a defensive dimension; I think he needs to get a playmaking dimension into his game,” Karl said. “He’s got to get a comfort zone on what shots he likes, what shots he doesn’t, and I’ve got to help him with that.”

Getting more out of McLemore would make it harder for teams to focus on Cousins and Gay.

McLemore’s play on Wednesday was welcomed.

“Having a third guy like that giving us extra push helps us out a lot,” Cousins said. “When Ben is clicking with Rudy and myself, we’re a good team.”

The Kings just need McLemore clicking more often.

Follow The Bee’s Jason Jones on Twitter @mr_jasonjones and read more about the team at www.sacbee.com/kings.

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