After he was recently called "This Draft's Best Kept Secret," more and more people have become aware of St. Joe's junior wing DeAndre Bembry.
Bembry is definitely a bit of an old school prospect. He possesses an old school look (look at that afro!), a bit of a throwback style of play and a definitely throwback attitude on the court.
After coming out of high school as a relatively unknown product, Bembry has emerged as one of the better upperclassmen in the 2016 Draft. He has followed a strong developmental trajectory, garnering the A10 Rookie of the Year award as a freshmen, All-Conference 1st team as a sophomore, culminating with the Atlantic 10 Player of the Year award as a junior.
Bembry has risen up draft boards this year because of his physical tools, his well-rounded game, and his strong defensive potential.
Concerns remain about his shooting touch, whether his handling ability translates to the NBA level, and whether his relatively laid back personality is going to negatively impact the development of his potential.
Bembry is a highly versatile offensive player. Not only can he score from every part of the court, but he is a more than capable ball handler who has a better than average ability to create for teammates, and he is highly effective off of the ball.
Bembry was a really effective finisher at the rim last season for St. Joe's. He connected on 55% of his two point shots last season, and considering that number includes a high amount of mid-range jumpers, its safe to say he probably converted at around a 60% clip at the rim. His strong transition skills, as well as his remarkable ability to cut to the basket mean he gets a ton of shots near the rim. To top it off, Bembry is also a strong post player, and his seeming burliness belies a relatively modest 207 pound frame.
Speaking of the mid-range, Bembry also seems to be a competent scorer inside the arc. He has a small stable of moves that allow him to create space for his shot, and he hits it at a decent clip, though he should not be considered any sort of mid-range sharpshooter.
Somewhat surprising for a guy of his size, Bembry is a pretty proficient ball handler. While he isn't going to wow anyone, his moves are effective, allowing him to generate space for shots and passes. Not only does he have a decent set of moves, but he is a very willing passer. Some have claimed Bembry has a better natural feel for passing the ball than some of the PG prospects in this class. He averaged 4.5 assists per game last season, with just 2 turnovers per game to match.
It isn't all rosy on the offensive side. While mechanically Bembry's shot is more or less fine, if far too slow, he had a really tough time shooting from range this season. In the previous two year's, he averaged 33% from beyond the arc, not a terrible number, but not great. This season, it dipped to just under 27%. Bembry's career sub 65% free throw shooting rate does not give great confidence that he's ever going to become a great shooter. But he has improved in that area, and that does give one some hope that he might at least improve to about average from the arc.
Another problem area for Bembry might be that he doesn't necessarily possess a highly aggressive attitude, which can lead to too much deference and poor time management decisions on the offensive side. DraftExpress labeled him as 'laid back', implying that this attitude might impact his decision-making, particularly in tight games and situations.
Finally, while Bembry possesses pretty good ball skills for a wing, it is unclear whether those skills will translate into an NBA setting. Remember, Bembry played in the A10, where the level of competition isn't exactly stellar. Some scouts have expressed concerns that his limited number of moves, and his somewhat high dribbling form will make him vulnerable to the NBA's much more defensively talented wing players.
Defensively, Bembry is a bit more polished of a prospect. Possessing both deceptive speed and leaping ability for a player that seems rather large and powerful, Bembry is a multifaceted defender, with the ability to guard, with a few limitations, point guards, shooting guards, small forwards and (smaller) power forwards.
Quick feet allow Bembry to cut off penetration well, while a 6'9 wingspan allow him to disrupt passing lanes. In transition, those long arms and quick feet, as well as a really quick first step, allow Bembry to jump the passing lanes with some frequency. He averaged a steal and a half a game last season, down from almost two the season before.
Bembry is also a very active defender. He managed to average about a block and a half a game, mostly as a help defender. He is quick to help, perhaps too quick at times, though this is something for which it is hard to critique young players.
Despite his just middling height for a wing (6'6), Bembry is an effective rebounder, averaging almost 8 rebounds per game, including almost 2 offensive boards a game. In some ways, his rebounding is reminiscent of P.J. Tucker, though I would say Bembry relies more on his athleticism to rebound than Tucker, who has developed into something of a scrapper as a rebounder.
Fit with the Suns
The Suns are really in need of a long term option for a wing defender. P.J. Tucker isn't that option. He'll be 32 by the end of next season, and we have already begun to see a little regression to the mean with him.
Bembry represents a player who has both a relatively high floor and a pretty high ceiling. He projects as a player who will, at the very least be able to contribute defensively and as an athletic scorer and potentially as a high level, secondary ball handler. If he can bring his shot up to par and nip in the bud any concerns about his aggressiveness, its entirely possible he could develop into a player similar to Manu Ginóbili. He has a similar skillset - strong finishing ability, good rebounding from the wing position, an uncanny ability to find open teammates, awkward but effective ball-handling abilities. Its a reach to think he'll ever reach Manu's level, but it isn't unreasonable to think he could develop into a lesser version of that player.
Bembry would be a strong pick for the Suns in the late first round. It would bring in a player that would serve as a strong complement to the offensively minded but defensively limited T.J. Warren, and allow the Suns the flexibility to move on from P.J. Tucker if they feel it is time.