Camp battle looming for Stauskas and McLemore for Kings

By Matt Moore | NBA writer

Ben McLemore may have to fight for his starting spot.  (USATSI)
Ben McLemore may have to fight for his starting spot. (USATSI)

Sacramento Kings blog Cowbell Kingdom previews what is likely to be a contentious battle when camp opens late next month. The Kings have two young shooting guards, very different in their abilities, that they will have to choose from to start.

Ben McLemore

At just 21 years old, McLemore is a long way from being a finished product. In 82 games last season with the Sacramento Kings, the former Kansas star averaged 8.8 points and 2.9 rebounds in 26.7 minutes of action.

The super-athletic McLemore struggled with his shot in his rookie campaign, shooting just 37.6 percent from the field and 32 percent from long range. He has worked hard to improve his ball-handling skills over the summer, but the game still needs to slow down if he hopes to show improvement in year two.

During Las Vegas Summer League, McLemore looked more aggressive than he did at any point in his first professional season. The aggressive play equated to baskets at the rim, but, also, an increase in turnovers. On the defensive end, McLemore has potential, but he often overplays his man and struggles in rotations.

He is a work in progress, but the 2013 seventh overall selection has a solid motor and is known as a gym rat.

Nik Stauskas

For the second straight year, the Sacramento Kings used the seventh pick of the draft to acquire a shooting guard. Stauskas and McLemore couldn't be more different as players, despite playing the same position.

Where McLemore is a raw athlete, Stauskas is a refined shooter with range. The 20-year-old guard out of Michigan has above-average ball-handling skills and is an accomplished passer, as well. Stauskas can run the pick and and roll and his long-range shooting will spread the floor for both DeMarcus Cousins and Rudy Gay.

Stauskas will struggle on the defensive end initially, but he is a high-IQ basketball player that is rarely out of position. He needs to improve as a rebounder and work hard to stay in front of his man, common issues for many rookies.

via Sacramento Kings position battle: Who should start at shooting guard? | Sacramento Kings Sac Kings Frontline Coverage of the NBA's..

Darren Collison is the likely starter at point guard. He shot 38 percent from three last year and hasn't shot less than 35 percent from the arc the past three seasons. So they seem to have a floor-spacer. McLemore provides a ball-handling slasher who can get out in transition, but Stauskas can actually run a half-court offense. Defense may wind up being the deciding factor here, and McLemore has an edge there.

McLemore wasn't good as a rookie, but then again, most of the Kings were horrible outside of Isaiah Thomas and DeMarcus Cousins, and most of the rookie class was terrible. Shooting is the one thing that can improve, and McLemore can get there with reps. His jumper isn't broken. But he's going to have to make strides in impact playmaking. Because Stauskas' strengths (shooting, creation) are going to be readily apparent from the get-go.

Of course, there's also Jason Terry... just kidding, Terry is likely to be bought out eventually. One option that should be considered though, is second-year point guard Ray McCallum. McCallum showed some bright spots in limited time last season, and could be a good fit next to Collison. Dual point guard lineups have been successful across the league and McCallum and Collison might be a good combination.

Should be a fascinating camp for the Kings, who people still aren't sure where they're going.

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