Some former lottery picks would be dismayed at the prospect of playing for their fifth team in nine seasons. And obviously, Ben McLemore wouldn't mind if his career since being drafted seventh overall in 2014 had been marked by a bit more stability.
But after signing a one-year deal with Portland in free agency, the veteran shooting specialist is excited about what he believes is a "great situation" playing next to Damian Lillard, CJ McCollum and the Trail Blazers.
“I’m in a great situation in Portland,” McLemore told Matt Tait of KU Sports. “I’m ready to take the opportunity that was given to me and go out and perform at a high level for those guys. I’m a Portland Trail Blazer and ready to get this new chapter in my life going.”
McLemore, 28, reportedly agreed to terms on a one-year, minimum deal with Portland on August 3. The team officially announced his signing two days later.
Over 53 appearances with the Los Angeles Lakers and Houston Rockets last season, McLemore averaged 7.7 points in 17.1 minutes per game, shooting 34.6 percent from beyond the arc, comfortably below his solid career norm. But it's telling that McLemore, among the most one-note players in the league offensively, has only eclipsed 40 percent on threes twice. He just isn't the marksman his textbook release or ridiculous rate of three-point attempts suggest.
Volume three-point shooters are more valuable than ever, though, and that description doesn't apply to McLemore's fellow minimum signee Tony Snell, his main competition for minutes. If McLemore shoots closer to 40 percent from three than 35 percent with Portland, it would go a long way toward ensuring Chauncey Billups makes him a semi-regular contributor or situational sub as opposed to a true benchwarmer or injury replacement.
The problem for McLemore is that the scope of his impact is limited solely to stretching the floor and splashing threes. Snell isn't on the same level of McLemore as a movement shooter, but has proven far more accurate with his feet set and is less of a defensive liability due to his size and wingspan alone. McLemore, remember, is just 6-foot-3, absent the quick feet, strong base and natural instincts needed to be even average on that side of the floor.
Maybe the ball goes in for McLemore in 2021-22, and perhaps he takes a more committed approach to defense as Billups makes it Portland's top priority.
That simultaneous, sustained two-way success, to be clear, shouldn't be the expectation for a journeyman like McLemore. But at least his optimistic attitude with training camp fast approaching allows for the possibility.