When the Sacramento Kings drafted Nik Stauskas last month, the pick raised eyebrows. Not because he wasn’t worthy of the Kings’ No. 8 pick, but because the Kings had drafted another young shooting guard the year before.
Ben McLemore was picked last summer with the seventh overall pick in the 2013 NBA Draft. Touted for his shooting ability coming out of Kansas, McLemore struggled mightily in his first season in the NBA. McLemore played in all 82 games, but averaged just 8.8 points and 2.9 rebounds per contest while posting a disappointing 48.2 true-shooting percentage.
Despite his first-year shortcomings and the selection of Stauskas, the Kings are maintaining that McLemore remains a part of their future. They’ve liked the work that he’s put in so far this offseason and still think he has good upside as an NBA player. With Stauskas in the fold, the Kings are exploring the idea of lineups featuring both McLemore and Stauskas next season.
“We’d like to see them together,” Kings general manager Pete D’Alessandro said last month after the draft. “Nik is such a playmaking type of a combo guard and we could actually see them on the floor together at times. And as we see Ben advance defensively, which we fully expect with his athleticism, we could actually see him maybe switching over guarding some one, playing together, playing off each other.”
The Kings have gotten the chance to experiment with a McLemore-Stauskas lineup here in Las Vegas. Kings summer league coach Ty Corbin has employed both McLemore and Stauskas in his starting unit, choosing to feature McLemore at small forward with Stauskas playing the two. So far, so good, they both say.
“It’s been great,” Stauskas said of playing alongside his 21-year-old teammate. “I think a lot of people have questioned whether we’re going to be able to play together because we’re kind of the same position. But I think so far, we’ve been showing that we’re able to make that happen.”
Through three summer league contests, Stauskas and McLemore have averaged nearly identical stat lines. In 31.3 minutes a game, McLemore has scored 13.3 points per contest while shooting 46.4 percent from the field. Stauskas, meanwhile, has scored 13.0 points per contest in 31.8 minutes per game, while shooting 48.1 percent from the field and 55.6 percent from beyond the arc.
McLemore says he and Stauskas have been on the same page since his new teammate’s arrival. The Kings’ second-year shooting guard says that getting on the floor and “trying to get that flow together” has helped them build cohesion with one another during their time in Las Vegas.
“Right now, it’s definitely working out good…at the same time, we’re working to build that chemistry together,” McLemore said after the Kings’ summer league win over the D-League Select team on Monday.
It’s still a work in progress, but the Kings continue to express excitement about what they have in Stauskas and McLemore. Getting a glimpse of how the two function together in Vegas is a necessary first step for the Kings to see if both McLemore and Stauskas truly fit into their long-term plans.