Blocking Shots Could Open NBA Path for Skyforce’s Keith Benson
Shot blocking is one of the most difficult basketball talents to master. The prototypical rim protector needs a mixture of size, quickness and nastiness to be among the best.
Sioux Falls has seen a few prolific swatters in their time especially over the last ten years. Keith Benson stands ready to throw up the barricade when the opposition enters the lane.
As a graduate of Oakland University, Benson in his college years with his 6-11 frame diverted a school record 366 scoring chances. That equates to 2.7 blocks per game. Most likely there were hundreds more attempts that were affected by Benson’s presence.
A list of former Skyforce big men who patrolled the lane with great success include Amir Johnson (3.1 per game on assignment in 06-07), Greg Stiemsma (holds Skyforce single season record of 162 in 09-10), Jarvis Varnado (holds the NCAA record of 564), Hassan Whiteside (blocked 123 shots in 48 games with Miami in 14-15), Justin Hamilton (2.03 per game with Sioux Falls in 13-14), and Khem Birch (blocked 86 attempts in 14-15).
Benson’s impact on the game will involve more than just the dimension of shot-blocking. As he enters his fifth professional season which includes one previous stop in Sioux Falls, he knows his game will be graded on multiple fronts. “I played internationally (Philippines, Belarus, China, Lithuania and Estonia). It’s a physical game over there, so I worked on finishing through contact.”
The Miami Heat showed an interest in Benson’s improved play and invited him to training camp before being released prior to opening night. While there Benson showed that he could hold his own against a pretty good stable of big men like Chris Andersen, Amare Stoudemire, Udonis Haslem and the aforementioned Whiteside. “I showed in training camp that I’ve improved my rebounding. They liked that so I’m just trying to rebound, block shots and score.”
While with Sioux Falls back in 2012-13, Benson was called up to the Golden State Warriors on a 10-day contract and feels that opportunity to contribute in the NBA again is within reach. “I think I’m close. If I have some strong showings here a call-up is possible.”
Consider again that honor roll of Skyforce shot blockers. All but Khem Birch have seen time in the Association. By controlling the paint, Keith Benson could rejoin the NBA fray.