RTC NBA Draft Profiles: Keith BensonPosted by rtmsf on May 20th, 2011
Over the course of the next month until the NBA Draft on June 23, RTC will be rolling out comprehensive profiles of the 35 collegians we feel have the best chance to hear their names called by David Stern in the first round that night. There won’t be any particular order to the list, but you can scroll back through all the finished profiles by clicking here.
Player Name: Keith Benson
Height/Weight: 6’11/230 lbs.
NBA Position: Power Forward/Center
Projected Draft Range: Early second round
Overview: Not only the top player hailing from the Summit League, but also one of the best mid-major talents throughout the course of the season, Keith Benson led the Oakland Golden Grizzlies to two straight conference championships and a near upset of 4th-seeded Texas in this year’s NCAA Tournament. The ultra-athletic and versatile forward from Michigan posed numerous match-up problems for the opposition this year as he was the main reason Oakland was an offensive juggernaut averaging 85.5 points per game. It is not all too often that the Summit League turns out legitimate NBA prospects, but not too long ago IUPUI also sent George Hill to the League as the San Antonio Spurs selected him with the 26th pick in the 2008 draft. One of the most decorated players in Oakland history, Benson has averaged a double-double the past two seasons averaging 18 and 10 this year, and 17 and 10.5 in the 2009-10 campaign. After Oakland’s upset victory over Tennessee last December—Benson poured in 26 points and corralled 10 rebounds—the Golden Grizz and Benson made a real splash onto the national scene. Even though they came up just short against Texas on the national stage, Benson will have his time to shine many more times at the next level.
Will Translate to the NBA: Benson is one of the most athletic big men in this year’s draft as he runs the floor like a small forward and has the leaping ability to alter and block shots. He blocked 3.6 shots per game this past season, and no doubt altered many more along the way. Although he was a great scorer in college, his role in the NBA will be more on the defensive and rebounding ends.
Needs Work: Even though he stands just shy of seven feet, Benson must bulk up and put on some weight in order to become a legitimate presence in the post. His athleticism will certainly benefit him while on defense, but this is a double-edged sword as he will get pushed around in the paint. Benson has also been criticized by some for taking possessions off on the defensive end—if defense and rebounding is where he will be most effective, this certainly has to change.
Comparison Players: Jason Thompson of the Sacramento Kings parallels Benson. Both hail from schools that are rather unknown in the basketball world—Thompson coming from tiny Rider University—but they have the ability to play with the best of them out there. Like Benson, Thompson stands at 6’11 and is one of the more athletic power forwards in the League.
Best Case Scenario: Benson continues to develop and grow into his large frame in order to become more than just a role player off the bench who spells the starting forward for a few minutes. With an improved mid-range game, he has the ability to become a true offensive threat that frustrates the opposition due to the many weapons he has in his offensive arsenal.
2014 Projection: Benson has put on 20 pounds of good weight, is a more polished offensive player that can step out and hit the 15-footer more consistently, and is a rebounding machine with his hustle and athleticism. He may not be putting up All-Star caliber numbers, but his teammates and those who closely follow him understand what an important role he plays as he does “all the little things” throughout the course of a game.
Best NBA Fit: After watching the Boston Celtics struggle after parting ways with Kendrick Perkins, and with Shaq no longer his old, dominant self, Keith Benson would be a great fit for the Cs. Benson would complement Kevin Garnett very nicely and would fit in well with the Celtics’ fluid offensive system. Because Doc Rivers is a defensive-minded coach, Benson’s success with Boston would be predicated on an improved defensive game.
Scout’s Take (Chris Denker from Netscouts Basketball): “long, looks the part, on the all-airport team… but not as skilled as you would like… poor defender and weak physically given his size.”