The Los Angeles Lakers were able to get back on track and blow out the Toronto Raptors on Tuesday night, but that was not the most important news of the day as they also signed Ben McLemore for the remainder of the 2020-21 season.
The Lakers had one more roster spot after signing Andre Drummond and decided to use it on a 3-point shooter in McLemore. The shooting guard was bought out by a Houston Rockets team that is clearly rebuilding, clearing the way for him to sign with a Los Angeles squad looking to repeat as NBA champions.
The Purple and Gold saw McLemore in their second-round series against the Rockets during the 2020 NBA Playoffs, and head coach Frank Vogel noted they had to be aware of where he was on the floor, which makes him excited to add him to this current roster that has lacked shooting at times.
“We had to know where he was at all times in that Houston [Rockets] series because he’s such an elite shooter,” Vogel said. “Like I said, we’re trying to win a championship here, so as much firepower as we can get as many weapons as we can get we’re going to try to get. Ben instantly elevates our ability to knock down threes on the backside when double teams come and play the drive-and-kick game in the modern NBA is made on. We’re thrilled about his addition and looking forward to getting him into some minutes and into our program.”
Despite McLemore just signing on Tuesday, Vogel is leaving open the possibility that he makes his Laker debut on Thursday against the Miami Heat.
“From what I understand, we still have to clear some things. But he’s going to join us in Miami tonight. We won’t have practice tomorrow, but he’ll be available providing the testing goes as scheduled. He’s been testing and he should be able to join us right away.”
McLemore has had a lackluster season for the Rockets as he only averaged 7.4 points and 2.1 rebounds in 32 games. He has also struggled shooting from beyond the arc as he averaged just 33.1% on 5.2 3-point attempts a game. While the volume is encouraging, the dip in accuracy is a bit concerning but it is important that Houston has largely struggled after trading James Harden to the Brooklyn Nets.
Given how thin the buyout market was, the Lakers did about as well as one could hope for as they at least theoretically addressed a need. Although McLemore is having a poor shooting season, it is possible he could bounce back playing alongside LeBron James and Anthony Davis. The looks he would be getting would be much cleaner, and as a result, his splits should rise.
How Ben McLemore can carve out a role on the Lakers
McLemore’s shooting is the primary reason he is on the Lakers, and the best way for him to get more minutes is to hit open shots when they are available. Kentavious Caldwell-Pope and Wesley Matthews have been streaky from deep, so it stands to reason that Vogel could decide to insert McLemore if the team needs more 3-point shooting.
Defensively he is not very good, but as long as he plays hard and limits his mistakes then he could conceivably carve out a small role.
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