A Look at Ben McLemore's Quiet Offensive Improvements

Ben McLemore wasn't the shooter many thought he would be last year, but he's quietly improved his offense this season.

Not too long ago, Ben McLemore was drawing comparisions to Ray Allen for his silky-smooth jumper at Kansas.

But his rookie season wasn't much like Allen at all.

McLemore struggled and shot just 32.0 percent from beyond the arc last year but attempted 297 shots from deep. He was just one of seven rookies in NBA history to shoot that poorly on at least 275 attempts from the arc.

Basically, the shooting wasn't there, and that was McLemore's biggest asset entering the draft, but McLemore finished just 10th in three-point percentage among the 14 rookies last year who attempted at least 100 shots from three.

Trending Up

This year, McLemore is shooting 35.8 percent from three, and his overall offensive impact has improved dramatically this season compared to last season.

Don't get me wrong. 35.8 percent isn't great, and he's just 52nd in the league if you qualify it for the guys who attempt at least 3.0 threes per game (McLemore averages 4.6), but his offense is trending upward, and that's a good sign for his future.

Even though McLemore's claim to fame is his distance shooting, it's his two-point field goal percentage that has really improved his advanced shooting measures. McLemore has increased his two-point field goal percentage from 41.9 percent last season (on 4.7 attempts per game) to 54.7 percent (on 4.9). This has strengthened his effective field goal mark from 44.6 percent last season to 54.2 this year.

Additionally, his true shooting is up from 48.5 percent to 57.3 percent even though his free throw rate has dropped from 21.1 percent (which is his free throw attempts per field goal attempt) to 18.7 percent. Still, his shooting from every single distance has improved since his rookie season.

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There's still room for improvement -- particularly from three -- but McLemore is beginning to show that last year isn't his best to offer.

Still Work to Do

Again, don't mistake me here. McLemore's game is far from flawless, as he still ranks on the wrong side of zero in our nERD and nF Efficiency metrics, but they're also on the rise. Last year, McLemore's nERD was -8.1, which indicates a league-average team would have lost 8 games with McLemore as a starter over the course of a season. That was better than only Victor Oladipo (-8.4), Josh Smith (-9.8), and Tony Wroten (-9.9). His nF Efficiency of -2.9 indicates how many points per game he'd lose a team full of league-average talent.

This year, his nERD has bumped up to -5.1, and his nF Efficiency is at -1.6. Those numbers aren't great, but his usage rate is just 16.2 despite playing 33.2 minutes per game. His usage rate ranks just 77th among the 86 players averaging at least 30 minutes per game, and only two shooting guards -- Courtney Lee (15.1) and Kyle Korver (14.5) -- have lower usage rates than McLemore does and play that many minutes.

Boogie Cousins, now an NBA All-Star, is fourth in the league (33.6), and Rudy Gay (26.6) is 21st.

Still, McLemore's turnover rate is up from 11.5 percent to 15.0 percent despite a slight decline in usage (from 16.9 to 16.2).

There is a long way for McLemore's offense to climb from a percentages standpoint, but it's evident that he's trending upward. Even though the Kings have lost seven straight and he's a tertiary offensive option, McLemore is quietly becoming a player who might be capable of playing some good basketball for a contending team sooner rather than later whether anybody is taking note or not.