The Denver Stiffs will be covering all of the top prospects in the 2016 NBA Draft in our Stiffs NBA draft series. Check back daily for video, stats, and analysis of all the projected first round prospects.
Stiffs Draft Series
|Points||Rebounds||Assists||Steals||Blocks||Turnovers||Field Goal %||Three Point %||Free Throw %|
Versatility - he has played 4 positions in college, can rack up assists and rebounds, and move off-ball or operate in the paint with equal ease. Bembry was asked to do a little of everything in college and absolutely did, leading the A-10 in scoring per game while also placing top-10 in assists, rebounds and steals. He doesn't seem all that fast but is sneaky about getting to the right place at the right time (with shuttle and 3/4 court times at the combine slightly ahead of PGs Jackson and Baldwin) and has a knack for making the right play. He won the Atlantic-10 Player of the Year award for a reason.
Basketball IQ - Bembry's play style is best described as, "unhurried." He takes his time and likes to make the right play rather than the quickest one - something a few people on the Nuggets could learn. Think "Wing Andre Miller" as far as style goes. He is a good out-of-area rebounder and has improved his assist-to-turnover ratio every year (better than 2:1 this year).
Tweener - it's not always a benefit to be a 2/3 but Bembry has some of the best qualities of both. He can drive on 3s and post up 2s. He can defend both with his 6'9 wingspan and with a 210-pound, put-together frame he's not a Will Barton or Gary Harris who will get pushed around as a 6'5 wing. And his footwork is good both inside the paint and out.
Bonus strength: that afro. Dude has to be moved up 5 spots just for his strong game top-side. There is a twitter handle named for that 'fro, and even some Samson-like properties of keeping his hair long. Dr. J would be proud.
3-point shot - He's only a 31% career 3-point shooter in college, and the pro line is a couple of steps back from that. His free-throw percentage is in the low-60s as well, and that's a pretty solid indicator of future shooting ability in the transition from college to pros. His shot in general is currently iffy though not broken, but it may top out somewhere around Wilson-Chandler-ville. He is not the long-distance sniper Denver is looking for, and more like Mudiay (if Mudiay finished 60-something percent at the rim).
No one dominant skill - being a jack-of-all-trades is great, but sometimes you need a guy to do one thing REALLY well and Bembry doesn't really have that one thing. He's neither a pure shooter nor a killer scorer, he's not a defensive whiz or an assist maven. He's just... good. Well-rounded is a nice compliment as a human being but a bit of a back-handed one as an NBA player.
Lack of takeover desire - Don't let anyone fool you: Bembry has plenty of swagger when it comes to his game and his feelings about it. He doesn't back down from anyone. He's just willing to let someone else have the last shot, sometimes to his detriment. He makes the right play rather than forcing a bad one, but when teams go looking for someone with a killer instinct the guy who's passing up shots late in games doesn't usually check that box. They should probably look at last year when he was taking those shots, however, and the team was losing.
Pro Comparisons (best to worst):
Andre Iguodala - yeah, I said it. 'Dala only shoots 71% from the charity stripe for his career and is at 33% from beyond the arc, but his passing as a wing, his ability to drive to the hoop and score and his multiple-position defense makes him a tough swiss-army knife to face. Bembry doesn't have that explosive first step and isn't the defensive presence that Andre is known for being now, but he has the tools to improve with better defensive coaching. Not playing 38 of 40 minutes every game would help him find some energy reserves for more consistent defense too. Iguodala is what Bembry is aiming at for ultimate upside - it's just a matter of how close he can get.
Lance Stephenson - this is a tough comp because yes, Lance can do all the things Bembry can... but the feeling is still that Lance should be more than he has been, and he is holding himself back with his personal issues. Maybe that would be the feeling if Bembry couldn't reach his Iguodala / Butler upside too: the guy is a decent player, but why isn't he a great one? Lance also went late in the draft due to some doubters, which makes the feeling that he's a bust a very strange one. A more stable Lance Stephenson would be a good get in any part of this draft outside the top-two - and if you don't like that comp, then think Doug Christie, who helped turn the Kings into that passing dervish that cut teams up in the early 2000s.
Marquis Daniels - Daniels hopped around the league as a bench roleplayer who couldn't hit a 3 or too many free throws but who could pass the ball and rebound some as a wing. His best seasons were his early ones in Dallas, and he never really progressed as a player. He still had a decade in the league, though. I see Bembry pulling off the same trick even if he doesn't hit his upside.
Fit with the Nuggets
If the Nuggets took him at 19 I would be very satisfied. He and Denzel Valentine are similar all-around players (though Valentine's higher draft ranking comes from his much better shooting) but Bembry has the athleticism, sneaky or not, that Valentine lacks - he can hold his own on defense in ways Valentine won't. As a bench weapon, Bembry provides a Wilson Chandler type except at the 2/3 and with more passing acumen.
He's not purely a young pup either, turning 22 on July 4th, and has plenty of experience with the trials and tribulations of being the best player on his team and how to balance his skills against the team's needs. He was their leading scorer last season but it was a poor plan by the coaches, and this year he gave up that mantle in pursuit of winning; St. Joseph's went 28-8. I don't worry about Bembry doing his own thing. He'll do what the coaches tell him to do, and as a multi-fit cog in that bench machine could be a really nice fit for Denver, despite his current lack of a long ball. Just let Mike Miller work with him the same way he did with Mudiay, and see if he can't find a more consistent shot approach.
Projected Draft Spot
SB Nation - 15 (Denver)
Draft Express - 28 (Phoenix)
Bleacher Report (Wasserman) - 24 (Philadelphia)
NBADraft.net- 26 - (Philadelphia)
Sports Illustrated- 26 (Philadelphia)
Bembry has a lot of facets of his game that could make him a really good pro. Others have made the comparison to Jimmy Butler and I can see why. I don't know that he'll get there but there are elements of their games that are similar, and he's got both the swagger and the work ethic to make those strides. Even if he doesn't reach those heights, as one of those glue guys who can keep the ball active and take advantage of spacing I think he has a long career ahead of him. I expect someone like the Spurs to take Bembry and for him to be a good player for a decade. OKC would be a really interesting place for him to land as well.
He likes being the all-around player. He likes doing everything. It's hard to find players who want to do the grunt work of rebounds and setting other people up for glory but can also score when necessary. As we talk about a lot of the players in this draft being one-sided players, here is one prospect who can do multiple things. If the Denver coaches can get him to do those multiple things well, that's how players like Kawhi Leonard are made.
Bembry is definitely a sleeper pick to keep an eye on.