The messy saga surrounding Ben McLemore and his representation will not prevent the Cavaliers from taking him with the first pick in Thursday’s draft, a league source said.
It’s about the only flaw on McLemore, who enters this draft as the best wing available.
McLemore headlines a group that includes Georgetown’s Otto Porter Jr. and Indiana’s Victor Oladipo, but the Cavs are impressed with the Kansas redshirt freshman who averaged 15.9 points last season and shot 42 percent on 3-pointers.
Sources around the league have cautioned not to completely dismiss the problems involving McLemore, his former AAU coach Darius Cobb and Rodney Blackstock. Cobb met with NCAA investigators recently after telling USA Today he received thousands of dollars from Blackstock, who has been advising McLemore throughout this draft process. USA Today reported that Blackstock is now a certified agent.
“The things [Cobb] said were a lie,” McLemore said at last month’s predraft workouts. “I think it was just a personal attack on Rodney. … Rodney has been great. Since I met him, we have got that bond and communicating very well. That is why I chose him to help me with this process.”
McLemore turned 20 in February, but the Cavs still consider him to be naïve and impressionable, one source with knowledge of the team’s thinking said, and they’re concerned he could be vulnerable to outside influences.
McLemore’s stock is rumored to be sliding after some unimpressive workouts, but a source within the Cavs who requested to remain nameless due to the nature of sensitivity surrounding the draft, dismissed that recently and said the team is still high on him. McLemore worked out last week along with Oladipo, whom ESPN analyst Chad Ford called perhaps the surest thing in this draft.
Ford said executives around the league believe Oladipo is the one prospect who won’t fail because his work ethic won’t allow it, yet Ford also conceded no one really had Oladipo at the top of their draft board.
That includes the Cavs, who view him as a player who hustles and plays hard and gives great effort, but lacks an overwhelming skill that will translate to the NBA. Oladipo is viewed as the best perimeter defender in this draft with the ability to improve offensively.
“I’ve proven myself and showed my abilities this past season,” Oladipo said. “I have the potential to be great. I have to continue to keep working for that dream to come true. I’ll stay in the gym and keep working hard. I’m going to enjoy it.”
Other wings in this draft include Georgia shooting guard Kentavious Caldwell-Pope and UCLA’s Shabazz Muhammad, who entered college as the projected No. 1 pick and franchise player in this draft. Then Muhammad disappointed throughout his freshman season with the Bruins and is now projected to go in the middle of the first round.
“I think the NBA is more up-tempo and spaces the floor,” Muhammad said last month at the predraft workouts. “UCLA was great for me, I learned a lot and I loved Coach Howland as a coach, but there was a lot of structure. I can go right, I can take guys off the dribble, I can play pick-and-roll, I think I can score the ball in a variety of ways.”
Jason Lloyd can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Read the Cavs blog at http://www.ohio.com/cavs. Follow him on Twitter http://www.twitter.com/JasonLloydABJ. Follow ABJ sports on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/sports.abj.