Kansas shooting guard Ben McLemore may be the Phoenix Suns’ pick at number five in Thursday’s draft.
Or, maybe, he’ll be gone before they even get a chance.
Like many other players in this pool, McLemore’s stock is all over the place. Some see him as one of the top two or three players in the draft whereas others don’t even view him as the top shooting guard in the class.
A prolific shooter with excellent athleticism, he would seem to be a good fit for the Suns, but there’s no telling if they feel that way.
“He struggled and he struggled in part because he wasn’t in great shape,” Ford told Arizona Sports 620’s Doug and Wolf Monday. “And by that, you have to understand there’s ‘basketball shape’ and ‘great shape,’ it’s not like he’s fat or can’t run.
“But these drills that they run players through when they go through individual workouts are incredibly intense. They’re actually harder in some ways when you go one-on-none because at least when there’s four or six players on the court there’s little minutes and little seconds to rest while the other player is doing the drill; when it’s you it’s from one thing to another, and he just wasn’t ready, he wasn’t prepared for that.”
Of course, the Suns have built a reputation for their workout’s conditioning test.
Anyway, Ford said he does not view McLemore’s struggles as a character issue, saying the player who averaged 15.9 points and 5.2 rebounds per game in his lone season for the Jayhawks is a good kid who is just naive about what it takes to be a great NBA player.
“Unfortunately he doesn’t have the right people around him to help him understand what that takes right now,” Ford said.
That includes a lack of an NBA agent as well as spending time with an “agent runner who’s being investigated by the NCAA,” according to Ford, creating issues that are a bit troubling. But, the insider said, red flags like that do not mean teams will be afraid to spend a high draft pick on a guy many view as one of the premier talents in the draft.
“You’re in a rare situation where you’re judging a player, in part, by the people that are around him and less about who they are as a person,” he said. “But when you get to the NBA level and you get a guaranteed contract, sometimes the people around you are your downfall.”