During this past weekend, 58 talented prospects made their way to Chicago to participate in the 2018 NBA G League Player Invitational. A week prior to the event, Ridiculous Upside highlighted the most intriguing players participating in the event, shedding light on former NBA Draft lottery hopefuls, Division II studs and graduates from the NBA academy in Nigeria.
But that list was just a start. Ben Lammers, who will look to transition to the pro game after a four-year career at Georgia Tech, also participated. During his collegiate run, he shined as arguably the best defensive center in the ACC due to his great work as a rim-protector. Those skills were evident during the final two years of his college career, as he averaged a conference-high 3.4 blocks as a junior and 2.4 blocks per game during his senior season. In addition to his work as a shot-blocker, Lammers is also a bit of a ball-hawk, averaging 1.2 steals per game --- the highest average among ACC centers.
Lammers’ great play on that end of the floor resulted in some significant accolades. Undoubtedly the most significant came in his junior season, when he was named as the ACC Defensive Player of the Year. Although he wasn’t able to recapture that award as a senior, Lammers was still named to the ACC’s All-Defensive squad.
Despite not being the most athletic big in the world, he was still able to shine as a solid rim protector due to great defensive awareness and some quick feet. Although he has shown the ability to move across the perimeter and defend against pick-and-rolls, Lammers is visibly more confident with working at or near the paint. Within that area, he does a nice job of being that last line of defense for driving guards Lammers can quickly recognize that threat and being able to move his feet. Once that occurs, the 6’10 center can either get a clean block or just place his body in front of the driver and use verticality to prevent that player from getting a clear shot at the rim.
A prime example of his great work as a shot blocker is evident in the clip below from Georgia Tech’s matchup against Virginia. After De’Andre Hunter is able to use a little fake to move around a defender, the wing starts his drive to the paint where it seems like he might have an open lane. However, that potential opening immediately closes up as Lammers moves his feet near the driving Virginia wing before just snatching the ball right out of Hunter’s hands as he went up for an attempt at the rim.
That great defensive technique also prevented Lammers from getting into any kind of foul trouble. As a senior, he only committed 2.3 fouls per 40 minutes, which was the fifth lowest average among centers in all of Division I basketball.
Although Lammers’s best work is obviously on the defensive end, he can also shine as a solid weapon on offense. In fact, he’s a pretty versatile weapon. Lammers can shine as a facilitator, post-up threat, off-ball cutter and offensive rebounder. That quantity of moves alllowed him to average 11.7 points, 8.1 rebounds and 1.7 assists per game on 46% from the field during his senior season.
Among those skills, he’s best in the low-post as Lammers can get it done on both the left and right block. On both of those areas, the 6’10 big is confident as he displays great touch as he can either hit a hook shot with either hand or just use his smooth footwork to work around the opposition. Both of those skills go hand-in-hand whenever he puts up a fadeaway jumper. Although that move was just a small part of his game last season, the fadeaway definitely has potential to be Lammers’ go-to move at the next level as it’s nearly impossible to defend.
Coinciding with his work as a post-up threat, the 6’10 big also shows a lot of upside as a facilitator. Despite only averaging 1.7 assists with a 1.15 Ast/To ratio, Lammers’ promise as a distributor comes when you actually watch him play as he displays great court vision and instincts whether he’s working near the perimeter or the low-post. In either area, he does a great job of quickly recognizing that open player and just slinging these extremely hard passes to his teammates which are usually accurate. A great example of his passing is seen in the clip below as Lammers hits a cutting Evan Cole in stride with a precise feed.
Although he really didn’t showcase that skill much at Georgia Tech, his facilitating should become a more significant part of his game when he trainsitions to the pro game. Because with how pro offenses are become more wide-open and perimeter-oriented than what you see in college, having a big that can throw precise passes to cutters or teammates stationed on the perimeter is a pretty great asset to have. When Lammers starts working in those type of offenses, don’t be surprised if his assist average improves at the next level.
Speaking of improving, an area where Lammers will need to make strides in at the next level is as a mid-range shooter. As a senior at Georgia Tech, he shot just 34% on long mid-range shots (13 feet to the college three-point line). That inefficiency comes despite him maintaining a pretty decent looking shooting stroke that has a high release. Although it’s a bit on the slow side, that’s usually the case for someone for a player like Lammers that stands at 6’10 and 234 pounds.
If that shooting percentage improves to the point where he’s just above league-average, he could actually be a pretty dangerous weapon on the offensive end as he can combine that jumper with an ability as a post-up threat, facilitator and offensive rebounder
As we move closer to the start of the 2018-19 NBA G League season, Lammers should be one of the many players that fans should keep their eyes on. From a defensive perspective, he used great instincts and quick feet to stand as arguably the best rim protector in the entire ACC. On the other end, Lammers can either put up buckets in the low-post or as a roll man in PnRs or use his solid court vision to move the ball to an open teammate.
While he definitely needs to make strides as a mid-range shooter and just getting down the court faster in transition, Ben Lammers should still be a significant part of any G League team’s rotation when the season begins this fall.