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Robin Benzing grows step by step

November 19th, 2009 · 1 Comment

After an interesting Eurobasket this summer, Robin Benzing had to get back to business quickly as he signed his first Bundesliga contract this summer and needed to adapt to play for ratiopharm Ulm without doing the preparation with his new team. But his adaption phase was very short as Benzing is currently the third best German scorer (behind Heiko Schaffartzik and Yassin Idbihi) even coming only of the bench. It was time to see how he does in his new role.

Right from his first appearance, Benzing took the game in his hand and emerged as the 1st scoring option from the bench. With an average of 12.3ppg until now, he displays an excellent regularity with only 2 out of 11 games scoring less than 11 points. Even if his shooting percentages are pretty low until now (43.1% 2FG, 26.8% 3FG), his coach Mike Taylor is giving him confidence and by letting the 2m08 tall forward play large minutes (24mpg). This confidence will probably be paid back by Benzing down the road once his shot will be falling later in the season.

Offensively, Benzing shows a really nice set of scoring possibilities. The go-to-move for him right now is some sort of catch-and-go drive coming of the screen from the low block on 45 degrees where he attacks the middle with great speed and going hard to the rim. He does this from both sides, either with the left or the right hand but preferring largely attacking the middle. Changing speed is the key for him on those drives as he fakes going slower a bit to put the defender in trouble and to score (often with the foul) some kind of under hand layups where he can use his long arms to be close to the rim.

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In the games I could see, he barely ever stopped in his drives to the middle to go for the jump shot or the dish out. This was however the result of poor defense by the opposition that did not force him to take a different decision than to conclude his drives. When attacking the baseline, you could see him going up for the jump shot form mid-range or doing the spin move to turn to the middle. All these actions are executed at an interesting speed for a player of his size. The SF position suits him very well as his limited physical force does not give him the possibility to post stronger players at the 4 spot.

He sees double-team situations on his drives coming well, even out of the spin and has the necessary court-vision to go for the pass. In one play where he took the baseline, spin move to the middle, he recognized the double-team coming, he made a picture-perfect skip pass with his left hand to the corner for the open three point hit by one of his team mates. His own three point shot is not falling at the moment, it looks even if he has changed a bit his mechanics having one hand not on the ball until the release which looks a bit strange. He nails the three pointer in catch-and-shoot situations if his release looks good, but sometimes, the execution of the shot does not look perfect.

Robin Benzing Highlights against EnBW Ludwigsburg on 14th November 2009

An important thing to note is that Benzing is not afraid to take (and make) the shots in the decisive moments. He did that already against Russia in the Eurobasket 2009 with success, and in the above mentioned game against Ludwigsburg, he had one very important three point shot in a crucial phase that he made, another one that he missed a couple of moments later though. It was not enough for the victory for his team that dominated the game but looked a bit shaky in the end.

Defensively, Benzing needs to improve his strength to become a better rebounder and defender. He is not the fastest guy when it comes to defend smaller forwards but he can change the decision making of the offense with his long arms. You can add that he did not get overplayed on a regular basis even if he defended faster guys. An interesting point is that Ulm used Benzing during stretches as top defense player in 3-2 zone situations to put pressure at the top. You can also see him coming late on help defense in certain situations going sometimes for cheap fouls.

Even if he had some trouble in defensive situations, his coach Mike Taylor told us the following.

Robin has impressed me with his ability to defend small forwards, but can improve his one on one defense with strength and experience. He must consistently defensive rebound better and be more physical defending the low post.

Offensively, Taylor is of course under the charm of the talented 1989 born forward.

Robin has made an excellent transition into the Bundesliga.  He has asserted himself as a scorer from the perimeter and the post.  I am particularly impressed with his ability to slash to the basket and finish or draw fouls.  As he gets stronger, he will be even better.

He has shown solid post game and excellent court vision with the ability to pass in transition and out of the post.  Robin is also working very hard in the weight room to increase his strength.  He must continue to work on his strength.

We are working with Robin to help him learn how to use all of his skills and to become that versatile inside-out scorer in the mold of Dirk Nowitzki.  We use Robin as a small forward and as a stretch four man and he has had a major impact on our games this season.

Benzing is currently considered as the top talent playing in Germany, something that attracts NBA scouts to follow him on a closer basis. He is still one season away from being automatically eligible to the NBA Draft and his camp is currently cogitating on declaring him eligible already for the Draft 2010. According to his agent, the most important thing right now is to get better and play a good Bundesliga season. Afterwards, they will see what they do but he did not exclude the possibility to put his name on the board already in 2010. Three NBA teams (Miami, Detroit and Portland) at least have seen him play this season and several others will certainly travel to Ulm to check his performances. Benzing looks more and more like one of the most promising Small Forwards in Europe, living up to the high expectations German Basketball had into him over the last years.

Picture: Courtesy of PicApp

1 response so far ↓

  • 1 Robin Benzing ready for the next step? // Feb 6, 2010 at 10:05 pm

    […] Today, ratiopharm Ulm, the team of Robin Benzing played on the road in Frankfurt in front of the cameras of DSF so that I had the chance to see the progress of the German prospect since my last report. […]

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