After much anticipation, the Atlanta Hawks completed a rather quiet 2011 NBA Draft night by selecting Keith Benson out of Oakland University in Michigan. Benson is a 6-foot-11 Center/Power Forward with a 7-foot-4 wingspan. There is some discrepancy with his weight. During the draft coverage last night, ESPN listed Benson at 217 but I have seen reports suggesting he is heavier. No matter what the correct number is, everyone agrees that he much add weight and strength if he wants to stick in the NBA. Benson admitted as much after the draft.
"I think I have the frame to put on a lot of weight," Benson said. "My game will really increase once I put on that weight and some strength. I think I can put on 20 or more pounds."
Hawks coach Larry Drew had this to say about Benson:
"Going into the draft and looking at the free-agent market, if we are going to be one of the top teams in the [Eastern Conference] we have got to get better defensively," he said. "And what better way to get better than to bring in a shot blocker."
ESPN.com writer Chad Ford gives Atlanta a C- and doesn't have a lot of confidence in Benson being able to stick in the NBA.
The Hawks sent their first-round pick to the Wizards in the Kirk Hinrich trade, and Washington turned it into Chris Singleton. Between Hinrich and Singleton, I'd rather have Singleton for the long haul.
In the second round, the Hawks didn't fare much better. They may be desperate for size, but Keith Benson plays small. I've been intrigued by his talent for years, but unless he really turns the corner I don't think he will stick in the league. Most second-rounders don't.