By Rustin Dodd
Late last week, as the NBA’s top prospects assembled for the league’s draft combine in Chicago, former Kansas guard Ben McLemore expressed his desire to be the No. 1 pick in the draft.
It’s been decades since a true shooting guard went No. 1 overall. (Depending on how you categorize Allen Iverson, you probably have to go back to David Thompson in 1975.) And McLemore would be the first Jayhawk to go first overall since Danny Manning in 1988. But does McLemore have a chance?
The NBA Draft lottery took place on Tuesday night, and the Cleveland Cavaliers walked away with the top pick for the second time in three years. Last season, the Cavs used the No. 4 overall pick on former Syracuse shooting guard Dion Waiters (he averaged 14.7 points in 61 games), while point guard Kyrie Irving continues to emerge as one of the league’s best young players.
So perhaps the Cavaliers will find McLemore appealing, but they certainly don’t have a gaping hole at the guard spot.
After Tuesday’s lottery, draft expert Jonathan Givony of DraftExpress.com projected McLemore to go No. 2 to the Orlando Magic, while ESPN’s Chad Ford pegged McLemore to go No. 4 to the Charlotte Bobcats. Both Givony and Ford projected former Kentucky center Nerlens Noel to go No. 1 overall.
(Meanwhile, Givony projects former KU center Jeff Withey to go No. 22 overall to the Brooklyn Nets, and former MU guard Phil Pressey to go to Atlanta with the 50th pick.)
If McLemore doesn’t go to Cleveland, here are four other places he could land.
No. 2 Orlando Magic
A possibility, mostly because the Magic, coached by former KU guard Jacque Vaughn, has holes all over its roster. Arron Afflalo, a 27-year-old shooting guard, led the Magic with 16.5 points per game last season.
No. 3 Washington Wizards
Probably not a great fit. The Wizards selected shooting guard Brad Beal (McLemore’s old AAU teammate in St. Louis) in the first round last year.
No. 4 Charlotte Bobcats
The perpetually moribund Bobcats are still looking for a spark. Kemba Walker hasn’t been able to lift the franchise. And the Bobcats have few answers … inside or out.
No. 5 Phoenix Suns
If McLemore would slide outside the top four, he could become teammates with former Jayhawks Marcus and Markieff Morris.