Veteran swingman Ben McLemore has been a little all over the place in his first couple of months playing with the Rockets.
Such can be the case when you are new to an established team that is poised to win now and it’s up to you to blend your game with a couple of superstars like James Harden and Russell Westbook while struggling with your own role. But McLemore finally seems to be finding his groove with the Rockets – whether in the starting lineup or coming off the bench.
“It’s about being confident, going out there and playing the game that I love,” McLemore said. “Over the past games my teammates and coaches are doing a good job of building that confidence within me to continue shooting and to keep playing hard and being aggressive.”
The Rockets brought in the free agent, who was the seventh pick of the Sacramento Kings out of Kansas during the 2013 NBA Draft, this summer because of his athleticism, defense and ability to knock down the open jumper and there would be plenty of open looks with so much attention going to Harden and Westbrook. It wasn’t quite that simple from the start.
That seemed to change during the Nov. 30 against Atlanta when McLemore scored 24 points and then two games later he contributed a season-high 28 points as starter in place of Danuel House Jr.
McLemore savd his best of the season for the Dec. 7 game against Phoenix when he scored 27 off the bench on an efficient 10-of-15 shooting from the floor, giving him a stretch where he scored 20-plus points in three games.
“It’s about staying ready, staying locked in and doing everything I need to do at both ends of the floor and just trying to help my teammates the best way that I can,” McLemore said.
His teammates can see the strides McLemore is making as he becomes more comfortable.
“He is doing good,” Westbrook said. “He is finding his way, finding ways to be more comfortable, being efficient and playing his game. That’s it.”
Rockets coach Mike D’Antoni anticipated that it might take McLemore some time to adjust and become more comfortable but he was confident the 6-foot-3 guard’s skill set would eventually show.
McLemore was waived by the Kings last February and had not played with any NBA team prior to the Rockets signing him in July to fill a critical role as a depth player.
“We always thought he was going to play well,” D’Antoni said. “He is too coachable and plays too hard not to play well. [And] he plays good defense. So, it’s just a matter of shooting and if you watch him shoot he has great form…If you just stick with it and stick with him eventually it’s going to come around and so far it has.”
McLemore, who is averaging 10 point and 2.4 rebounds while shooting 41 percent from the field and 35 percent form 3-point range, is enjoying the ride and getting more comfortable in his new surroundings with the Rockets.
“It’s been great. I’m happy and thrilled to be here and be a part of the Houston Rockets,” he said. “I’m excited with the journey that I’m headed to with the Rockets. I just have to continue doing what I have to do and things will work out perfectly.”
Follow Terrance Harris on Twitter @terranceharris.