Wednesday, August 20, 2014

SHOT-CHART JOURNEY: BEN MCLEMORE


Out of all NBA players that played more than 1400 minutes*, Kings Rookie Ben McLemore registered the lowest PER. This probably happened because he had a terrible shooting year. Check out all this red on his official NBA Block chart.  He was particularly bad from the area the NBA's stats website calls "Center(C), Mid-Range, 16-24 ft." I wanted to know what made McLemore such a bad shooter from this particular spot, so I watched every shot he took on the NBA Stats Site, and What I Found Out Next Shocked Me (by how boring it was).


ONE: 11/9/2013 VS TRAIL BLAZERS:
Isiah Thomas gets Ben running off a Jason Thompson screen. “There’s McLemore, he’s a good shooter too!” The future chuckles at Grant Napier. Back iron.


TWO: VS. PHOENIX: 11/20/2013
Greivis Vasquez, then a member of the Kings, passes to an open McLemore from the elbow. Front iron. You know, I can’t even really imagine Greivis not in a Toronto uniform. Remember his impassioned recruiting pitch to Kevin Durant through the media? No one ever wore a different uniform than the one they’re wearing at that very moment. The past is merely the medium that the present exists in. Michael Jordan has always been a misanthropic rich guy who wears weird jeans.


THREE: VS. PHOENIX, 11/20/2013:
McLemore comes off another Thompson screen that snags his defender, Gerald Green, catches a pass from Demarcus Cousins, and shoots with a little fade into the front iron again. McLemore isn’t terribly unlike Gerald Green; very athletic, tremendous show dunker, trying to make his living as a shooter. His jump shot doesn’t have the lift that post-exile Gerald’s does. If I were him, I would try to emulate GG. I would also intentionally hoard my rookie paychecks and intentionally washout of the league so I could buy a farm in Olympia and just chill out for the rest of my life.


FOUR: VS. CLIPPERS, 11/23/2013
The NBA’s play display thing fucked up and showed a JJ Redick basket instead. Redick passes to a posting Griffin, loses his defender who is coincidentally Ben McLemore, with a kind of off ball-fake out move, then takes a shot from about the same space we’re examining McLemore’s terrible shooting. It hits the front iron then rolls in. I can’t decide if Redick’s fake out was a good move or McLemore’s being faked out was a brain fart. Probably both.


FIVE: VS. OKC, 12/03/2013
McLeMore takes a pass from Kings player number nine, I can’t pull him right now, takes two dribbles, shoots and hits back iron. Number nine seems like a forward. Maybe he’s a ghost? I think the Kings had six people on the court. Can’t go back to confirm I have to write thirty of these things.


SIX: VS LAKERS, 11/6/2013
This is the exact same play as the shot against OKC, mysterious number nine and everything. This time, McLemore hits front iron. I remembered to count this time: five Kings players, so number nine probably isn’t a ghost. Mclemore rebounds his miss, misses the tip in, then he reaches over and gets called for a foul. Malone takes Derrick WIlliams out for a smoke break.


SEVEN: VS. UTAH, 12/7/2013
McLemore runs off a screen that picks off his defender, Gordon Hayward, catches a pass from Grevis and rims the shot out. I begin to wonder about the shot that was lost to a JJ Reddick make: was that a good shot, a shot that went in? Did it even exist? How many basketball plays truly exist? Did games that weren't filmed happen? Is Bill Russell a character in a conceptual novel by Dave Rimjob, which is Bill Russell’s real name?


EIGHT: VS. ROCKETS, 12/15/2013
James Harden is helping REALLY far off McLemore. Ben runs to the top of the key, Harden realizes that he’s going to take a shot, tries to recover, but gets screened off by Jason Thompson. Shot hits the inside of the rim twice and flies out into Terrence Jones’s hands. Harden was exhibiting some pretty unaware defense here but it actually worked out because it sent McLemore right into his coldzone.


NINE: VS. CAVS, 1/12/2014
A new year! Ben hasn't had a take from center midrange for a long time, and he only seems to get the opportunity here because the Kings have blown the poor Cavaliers out. The play begins with Quincy Acy: THE Quincy Acy! Posting up Anthony Bennett on the left block. He gets doubled by Dellavadova, the game temporarily takes place in a kind of Alternate Universe NBA where Quincy Acy commands a double team, Acy almost turns it over, but manages to jump pass right to Ben’s soft spot: the shot hits front iron and back board.  Earl Clark with the rebound.


TEN: VS. INDIANA: 1/14/2014
A mere two days later, constituting an OASIS of midrange in a drought for our hero, McLemore catches a pass from Rudy “The Rude Dude” Gay (Grevis has moved on, a leaf in the wind.) above the three point line, dribbles twice at Danny Granger, pulls up (Granger gets an okay contest) and hits front iron again. This was a time when the Pacers were unstoppable. Granger would become Evan Turner in a matter of months, and the good ship Fieldhouse would catch fire.


ELEVEN: VS. GRIZZLEBEES, 1/17/2014
Ben’s taking another center mid range shot a mere three days later. Ben takes a pass from Quincy Acy, dribbles twice, pulls up and hits the shot over Mike Miller and someone else, let’s say… Kosta Koufos? Mike Conley? “McLemore's not shy!” Says the Grizzlies’ announcer. Brevin Knight: “Let me tell you what he can do: he can get the ball off in a crowd. He’s long, he’s athletic.”


TWELVE: VS. GRIZZ WARRIORS, 1/17/2014
TWO IN THE SAME GAME!? The Grizzlies are out here flexing their defensive might on Sacramento’s top options! McLemore loses Mike Miller on a big, long circle cut, catches a pass from Thomas, and hits a shot a step inside the arc. I noticed Mike’s shoe seemed to be giving him some trouble while running after Ben. Maybe time to ease up on the socks, buddy.


THIRTEEN: VS ROCKETS, 1/22/2014
Another shot just a hair inside the arc, this one hits front iron. Gets the pass from Cousins after he tries to go at Dwight, who is strong and fast and makes DMC bobble the ball. I wanted to see DMC put Dwight in a blender there but I that's impossible because I am watching Ben McLemore attempts. This exercise has become somewhat cruel.


FOURTEEN: VS. INDIANA, 1/24/2014
I watched this game, it was awesome. Paul George had a game ending pick on Thomas that was one of the finest and subtlest basketball plays I’ve ever seen. Just a masterclass in length and touch. To Paul George! Anyway, McLemore gets the rebound on defense, dribble it upcourt, then the camera cuts away but I think maybe he made a try at penetrating? Then he dribbles into his coldzone and take a shot behind an Aaron Gray screen that may or may not have been serving a function. It goes off the front iron, is rebounded by Carl Landry, who kicked it out to a wide open Jimmer, who takes the shot and…


AND….


The clip goes dark. We’ll never know if Jimmer hit the shot.


FIFTEEN: VS. DENVER 1/26/2014
Ben shot a lot of these in January. Was it the cold? A New Year’s resolution? Or just a playbook imperative? God only knows, I doubt Ben or Mike Malone even know. Ben isolates against Wilson Chandler, dribbles between his legs, and hits the shot juuuuuust inside the arc. “He’s playing with a lot of confidence!” Says Napier a little condescendingly.


SIXTEEN: VS. BOSTON, 2/7/2014:
It’s been nearly two weeks since Ben’s last center midrange shot. He is thirsting. He runs off a out of the paint, his defender has given him some slack and runs into a screening Cousins. Rims out.


SEVENTEEN: VS. BOSTON, 2/7/2014
Loses the same defender, James-Posey-I-think, takes a pass from Derrick Williams, front iron again. Cousins cleans up the shot and gets fouled. Somewhere, in the distance, a dude in the crowd yells “OOOOOHHHHHH” like he is passing a stone. Heinsohn is SURE that was a clean strip.


EIGHTEEN: VS. WASHINGTON, 2/9/2014
Pass from Thomas, running off a screen by Aaron Gray. Miss. Can you believe that they let children play basketball with Aaron Gray at one point? The Washington announcer calls hm “Aaron Gay” (“Aaron Gay in the the game) which is either a VERY immature and offensive concession to homerism, or a brain fart caused by Gray being on a team with Rudy Gay (“...or rather, Aaron GRAY in the game for Sacramento").


NINETEEN VS. WASHINGTON, 2/9/2014
McLemore’s defender falls asleep, he runs into his shooting spot, takes a pass from Thomas and hits the shot. I could probably tell you something else about this play, but the Jim Beam commercial started and I don’t want to watched that whole damn commercial then watch the play again, sounds like a pain in the ass. All of the commercials on this reel are for Jim Beam. Mila Kunis is in them, trying to convince me that alcohol is cool. I ought to send her a letter telling her that my youth pastor taught me that alcohol is, in fact, NOT VERY COOL!


TWENTY: VS. WARRIORS 2/19/2014
Isaiah THomas STEALS a defensive rebound from Steph Curry. He’s ON THE GROUND! THE ANNOUNCERS ARE GOING BONKERS! THE HEART! THE HUSTLE! THEY TOLD HIM HE COULDN’T DO IT, BUT GODDAMNIT HE DIDN’T GET ALL THE WAY TO THE N B FUCKING A TO LOSE THIS GODDAMN GAME. He passes the ball to McLemore, who dribbles upcourt, takes a screen from Thompson and rims out a very long two.


TWENTY-ONE: VS BOSTON 2/22/2014
First play of the game! Jeff Green loses McLemore on a Jason Thompson screen, another front rim. He’s really front rimming these a lot. Do you think he is front rimming in other aspects of his life? What? No, this isn’t a sex thing, you creep! You’re a real creep, man. Creepin’ me out over here.


TWENTY-TWO VS. BOSTON 2/22/2014
Loses James Posey on a really good pick by Landry; you hear flesh crashing together like two meat boulders sliding at each other down a hill covered in canola. Takes a pass out of the post from Cousins, shot rims out.


TWENTY-THREE VS. ROCKETS 2/25/2014
Handoff from a point guard who looks like Shane Larkin, but isn’t, because Larkin played for the Mavs last year. “Really struggling with that shot, one-of-eight.” Everyone is exhausted. Ben takes a nap right there on the floor.


TWENTY-FOUR VS. RAPTORS 3/7/2014
Hey, one day before my birthday! I didn’t get a gift this year because I couldn’t think of anything to ask for.  Runs out of the paint catches pass, yadda, yadda, you get it by now. This is a little like watching a “Ray Allen’s Worst Plays” mixtape, which I would watch, because I don’t care for Ray Allen. I like to think the soundtrack would be something by Electric Wizard. Front rim again, he really needs to work on his lift.


TWENTY-FIVE VS. THE KNAAAAAACCCCKKKKKSSSSS: 3/26/2014
Yeah, the Knicks! What unfortunate thing is going to happen in this one!? Let’s see… takes a handoff from Cousins, loses JR on DMC, lifts, aaaaaaannnndddddd… DRILLS IT! 86-76 KINGS!


I will always treasure what the 2013-14 Knicks gave us.


TWENTY-SIX VS. OKC 3/28/2014
The Kings miss on a fast break, Acy gets the offensive rebound, McLemore gets the ball above the line, Durant kind of prematurely challenges a three, McLemore dribbles in and shoots, it rattles out. I feel like we should give McLemore this one because it wasn't a bad move. I am going to get my lawyers to send a letter to the NBA to make the points count.


TWENTY-SEVEN VS OKC 3/28/2014
Dribbles off Thompson screen, shoots. Back rim this time, which is a KIND of progress.


TWENTY-EIGHT VS. DALLAS 3/29/2014
Takes pass from Not-Shane-Larkin, dribbles in, back iron again. Two back irons in a row: a possible sign of a change in approach or mechanics?


TWENTY-NINE VS. LAKESHOW, 4/2/2014
Runs off another Thompson screen, cans the shot this time as if he had canned the previous 28 and was the greatest shooter of all time. The Sacramento announcers are talking with Brian Grant about his Parkinson's foundation and the game sort of seems like an afterthought.


THIRTY VS. PORTLAND, 4/9/2014
Mila Kunis is now trying to convince me that bears will kill me for honey based hooch. Runs off Thompson screen again. I thought this time it was a moving screen on Wes Matthews, but maybe that’s my Portland homerisim at work there. Refs called Cousins for a loose ball instead, because The Man is out to shut down Boogie 24/7. They hate his slick moves and cool badditude.


THIRTY-ONE VS. PHOENIX 4/16/2014
Runs off Aaron Gray screen and catches a pass from Acy at the elbow. Fades on the shot, Gray’s screen wasn’t great. Hits it, probably the most difficult shot he hit all season from this area, having watched all of the shots he took.


THIRTY-TWO VS. PHOENIX 4/16/2014
Runs off Gray screen. Catches pass and, guess what, front rim. Acy grabs the rebound and puts it back strong for a two handed jam. There’s some yelling, some of Quincy trying to FEEL on this, the last day of the season.


THIRTY-THREE is lost to time, somehow. More likely, Twenty-two was lost to time, but I can’t tell for sure. Everything has become hazy.


WHAT DID I LEARN?


1. Ben McLemore is not a great midrange shooter.
2. It’s not because Ben McLemore is isolation gunning from midrange. I think maybe two of the shorts he took, the one against Granger and the isolation against Chandler, would have counted as an unassisted basket.
3. I am not a coach, so grain of salt this shit, but his lower body action could probably use a lot of cleaning up. Set your feet more and stuff.
4. I thought this would get really silly and fun at the end, but it just got sort of oppressive. This sentence is also about bad teams’ seasons. (It’ll be cool, we’ll play younger guys! Turns into UGH, these fucking dudes AGAIN!? pretty quick.)
5. Jason Thompson sets a lot of screens. That guy’s dad was probably a screen door.
6. He didn't get fouled once.

*I decided on this number because it's how many minutes Battier played. Pretty arb.

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