Jerrelle Benimon was one of the most interesting players in college basketball last season. He was the only forward listed as a senior to grab 25% of opponents’ misses and assist on 20% of his team’s scores when he was on the floor. Benimon’s versatility was put to full use in his two years at Towson, after two run-of-the-mill seasons at Georgetown, and it’s no surprise the Denver Nuggets signed him to a training camp deal to take a longer look at how much of his skill-set can be translated to the NBA.
Benimon did a lot of ball handling for Towson, constantly bringing it up the court. When they played Kansas early in the season, he essentially initiated all plays from up top since it was the Tigers’ best chance of running any sort of set against the Jayhawks’ combination of length and athleticism. Benimon has great court vision for someone his size. He proved himself a very good passer facing the defense and flashed some quality instincts passing out of dribble penetration.
Benimon has a nifty handle dribbling from side to side and showed decent speed on straight line drives, mostly thanks to his long strides, but often dribbles the ball too high in traffic, which makes him susceptible to getting the ball stripped. He turned it over on 18% of Towson’s possessions when he was on the floor. Smaller players were able to keep pace with him but Benimon countered with pretty great pull-up shooting, hitting 43.8% of his 146 two-point jump-shots with fewer than five percent of them assisted.
He’s a good screener who looks to make contact but doesn’t dive hard to the front of rim (just 16% of his scores at the basket were assisted last season) and is merely a capable set shooter, hitting only 32 of 110 three-point attempts the last two seasons. Benimon is not a fluid shooter. He has a slow release, mechanically bringing the ball up before elevating. He was good enough that opponents closed out so he could take them off the bounce in college but defenders would proactively sag off him at the pro level at this point.
His skill facing the basket is what distinguished him but Benimon still got most of his scoring from the low post. He is able to set deep position due to his 245-pound frame and showed good touch to finish at rim level. 55% of his shots were at the rim and he finished them at a 63.8% clip. Benimon is not lengthy enough to shoot over every defender but showed a lot of patience working against Kansas’ taller frontline and uses his lower body strength well to create separation. He tends to rely on his shot fake a bit too much but that led to positive results in the conference he played, as Benimon averaged nine free throws per 40 minutes last season.
Benimon’s strength translates into toughness on post defense as well. He is not easily moved thanks to his strong base. But he struggled guarding in space due to below average lateral quickness. That essentially takes a shift to the perimeter out of the question, which could have been in play if Benimon shed some 20 pounds from his frame. His leaping ability not only fueled his dominance on the boards but also helped him as an asset in rim protection. Benimon was active rotating from the weak side in help defense and ranked fifth in the conference in block percentage. Towson allowed less than a point per possession with him on the floor.
Rafael Uehara is the managing editor of ‘Basketball Scouting’. More of his work can be found here or at Upside & Motor, where he is a regular contributor. He can be followed on twitter as @rafael_uehara.