Tall Passer

Jerrelle Benimon Scouting Report

(Originally posted at Upside & Motor)

I’m not very optimistic about Jerrelle Benimon’s chances of being called up this season. Despite playing center for Idaho, he’s slightly undersized at 6-foot-8 and would struggle to fill that position in the NBA. He’s missed 15 of the 18 three-point attempts, so he’s not a stretch four, either. And, currently listed at 245 pounds, Benimon hasn’t adjusted his body to potentially playing a wing position.

All of that is not to say Benimon hasn’t played well in his first D-League season, however. In fact, he’s been impressive enough to earn a spot on the Western Conference All-Star team. The Stampede have lost 27 of their 31 games and have the worst pace-adjusted point differential in the league, but Benimon remains a prospect of interest due to the combination of his feel for the game and rebounding prowess.

Benimon has exhibited great court vision and ball skills passing on post-to-post action and out of double teams. Idaho plays through him as a hub to initiate offense on the perimeter from time-to-time, too. With this skill-set, Benimon would be best suited playing a Boris Diaw and Draymond Green sort of role in the NBA. According to Basketball Reference, he has assisted on 19 percent of Idaho’s scores in his 994 minutes and ranks in the top 20 in the D-League in assists.

Benimon must improve as a shooter for opponents to respect the threat of his passing even more, though. According to NBA, he’s taken just 20 percent of his shots from outside five-feet and converted them at an unimpressive 41.2 percent clip. Benimon rises with good balance but doesn’t elevate much off the ground and doesn’t have a particularly quick release.

At this point, Benimon does the vast majority of his scoring within close range, leading the league in two-point percentage. Benimon is a fluid runner sprinting up the court in transition and constantly makes himself available as an option on the break. In the half-court, whatever catch-and-finishing he does is by navigating the baseline, sneaking behind the defense on the weak-side or tipping it in on the offensive glass (showcasing second-jump-ability). Benimon’s not a very good pick-and-roll player; an iffy screener whose picks on-ball defenders don’t struggle to navigate around. He doesn’t dive to the front of the rim with much speed, either, and is unable to play above the rim as a target for lobs.

Most of his scoring comes on face-up drives out of the post. Benimon doesn’t play with much physicality and struggles establishing deep position but has a quickness advantage against most of the big men he’s faced at the D-League level. He doesn’t have a particularly explosive first step but has solid footwork, a nice handle and great touch to finish around length. Benimon has converted 69.2 percent of his 308 shots within five-feet, with less than half assisted. Despite being bound to the ground, he’s been blocked on just eight percent of such close range looks and is drawing shooting fouls at a decent clip, averaging 4.5 free throws per 36 minutes.

Benimon is susceptible to getting the ball stripped in traffic, though. And all that passing out of double teams also lead to the ball getting deflected at times. His 3.1 turnovers per 36 minutes are mostly the cost of his playmaking. Nonetheless, Benimon is a far more positive presence in a team that doesn’t have many, leading Idaho in offensive rating among rotation players.

On the other end, Benimon is a far less impactful player. Idaho switches on ball-screens and Benimon puts in the effort, bending his knees and getting on his stance guarding on the perimeter. But he doesn’t have the lateral mobility or use his body well enough to stay in front of smaller players in isolation. He doesn’t contain dribble penetration through contact and lacks the length to contest shots effectively. Benimon plays with good attention as a weak-side defender, aggressively rotating to the front of the rim in a timely manner, but isn’t much of a presence because he can’t play above the rim as a shot blocker, denying just 29 shots in 28 appearances.

Benimon plays with active arms and is able to make plays in the passing lanes, ranking in the top 35 in steals. But his biggest contribution is on the glass, where Benimon has collected 25.6 percent of opponents misses, which ranks fifth in the league. Despite this, opposing teams score at the same rate with or without him on the floor and Idaho ranks second-to-last in scoring allowed per 100 possessions.

Editor’s Note: 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.

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Pure Shooter, Shot Creator

Bryce Cotton Scouting Report

(Originally posted at Upside & Motor)

With so many teams in need of an emergency point guard, Bryce Cotton is likely to be called up from the D-League at some point this season. The Austin Spurs rank second in wins, trailing the Bakersfield Jam by only one game, and the diminutive shot maker has been their driving force on offense. He’s currently the fifth highest scorer in the D-League, averaging 21.3 points per contest on 46.1 percent shooting.

Cotton’s top skill is his outside shooting and it is currently being maximized in Austin’s motion offense. No one monopolizes possessions, and Cotton gets his fair share of duty off the ball. He’s constantly on the move and tends to make quick decisions when it is swung to him, often resulting in high quality shots (he averages almost 15 field goal attempts per 36 minutes).

Cotton is a very good shooter off the catch and doesn’t need much space to elevate due to his quick release. According to NBA.com, Cotton has hit 14 of his 29 three-point shots from the corner and 41.4 percent of his 140 attempts from above the break. He’s just as efficient when forced to put the ball on the floor, hitting 41 percent of his 120 mid-range shots, only a quarter of which are assisted.

Getting the ball with the defense out of position with the sheer threat of his jump-shot shot is crucial for Cotton’s floor game. He doesn’t have much explosion to get separation off the bounce and struggles to maintain balance through contact due to his small six-foot, 163-pound frame.

Cotton mostly looks to pass out of dribble penetration, assisting on 17.4 percent of Austin’s baskets in his 1,126 minutes on the floor, and does so efficiently. He has a tight handle and a small center of gravity, which makes it hard for opponents to strip the ball from him in traffic. His 12.3 percent turnover rate is very acceptable in the context of his 21.5 percent usage rate.

While he’s shown the ability to make tough shots out of awkward body positions, he has mostly struggled to finish around length. Cotton has converted his 131 shots within five-feet at an unimpressive 54.3 percent clip. It’s always a challenge for smaller players to exaggerate contact well enough to draw shooting fouls in volume and Cotton is no exception. He’s averaging just 3.5 free throws per 36 minutes, while having 10 percent of his close range shots blocked.

Nevertheless, defense is likely to be the biggest issue for Cotton at the NBA level. He has the worst defensive rating on the team among rotation players, according to Basketball Reference. Cotton was coached to go under the screen on the back-to-back series against Idaho over the weekend and played with better speed on defense, navigating the pick and recovering with good quickness.

Cotton just doesn’t have enough strength to be an effective individual defender, though. He has the lateral mobility to stay in front in isolation but can’t contain dribble penetration through contact or contest shots effectively. He contributes on the defensive glass and plays the passing lanes some, but not enough to be a positive presence when he’s on the floor.

Editor’s Note: 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.

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