After a long weekend of basketball including the Nike Global Challenge and Kenner League, I headed over to the Big Shots tournament to check out Martin Geben, one of Maryland’s top final targets in the 2014 class.
Geben, the 6’9, 235-pound forward for the highly successful Team Takeover AAU squad, ended up helping his team enough to win MVP of the Big Shots tournament. Averaging 12.5 points and 7.5 rebounds over four contests, Geben was continuously solid and proved his worth time and again on the court.
Strengths: Size, Strength, Physicality, Versatility
The first thing that stands out to you when watching Martin Geben is that a lot of times, raw height can be a deceptive measure of how big someone is. Let me explain: Geben’s listed height is 6’9, which is pretty much accurate, but his wingspan passes the eye test. Geben plays considerably larger than you would expect from a guy his height, and it’s never an issue when you see him go up against other bigs.
Geben could play both the four and five spots without sacrificing too much height and physical ability. He may project as a face-up, stretch four, but coaches would be remiss if they didn’t play him at the five sometimes as well. He weighs 235-pounds, but Geben is a very sturdy 235; rarely, if ever, did I see him get pushed around too severely in the post. If you thought Len shied away from contact, Geben is the exact opposite in that almost every time, he initiates it. It’s something you have to like about him, since with his frame, he can undoubtedly add a good amount of weight to it.
You also have to like Geben’s offensive game. He knows how to hit the outside shot, but more importantly, he’s completely okay with banging down low. Geben scores a lot of his points taking a few steps and laying it in, but he does enjoy a good dunk or two. If he has the option and there’s space, you can count on Geben opting for the dunk over the layup.
Geben definitely has an outside shot though, make no mistake. You can see it in warm ups, and you can see it during the game. Obviously you don’t want your big men taking too many midrange jumpers, but when Geben takes them you feel confident they’re going to go in. He has a relatively high release point, making it a bit more difficult to block. He’s going to have to be set up to even have the option to get his shot off, but that’s the case with almost every big man. There’s no problem with being able to run plays through a big, which is what Geben brings.
Geben has great footwork for a big man, and never looks awkward on the court. He establishes position down low frequently and isn’t going to lose his footing in the post without a considerable amount of effort by the defender. Team Takeover works the ball around the perimeter so well because defenders have to pay attention to big me like Geben, who always seem to be in prime scoring position.
Another thing Geben does that pleases scouts watching him is his ability to do a lot of things well. When Geben gets doubled in the post, he doesn’t turn the ball over often. He has a knack for quickly finding the open man, ensuring he doesn’t turn it over (even though his ball-handling leaves some to be desired). He is also a fantastic touch passer; more than once I saw him hit an open cutter from the top of the key as well as down low. His high basketball IQ was on full display all weekend, and even though he didn’t get a ton of assists, he got a lot of secondary assists.
He’s just so efficient in what he does. Geben doesn’t take bad shots, ever, and the ones he does take are always in an area where the percentages of made shots rise significantly. He’s not going to force an issue, and would rather pass to an open man than throw something crazy up.
A final note on Geben is that he fights for every rebound. His great motor is never more evident than when he is fighting for every rebound down low. He may not get all of them, but he makes his opposition fight for every single one. Geben plays the angles pretty well for a big man, and could easily average a double-double every game based purely on his hustle. That’s something you have to love.
Weaknesses: Athleticism, Dribbling, Shot-Blocking
With Geben, it’s not an issue of whether or not you think he’s going to help your team — I can promise you that all this guy wants to do is win — it’s more about how much he can help. Geben does a lot of things well, but doesn’t do any one particular thing great. He’s a good shooter, not a great one; he’s good at finishing around the rim, not great at it; he has good post moves, not great. You get the point.
If you’re looking for a guy who is going to protect the rim and send back a lot of shots, Geben might not be your man. He’s athletic, but not a guy who will wow you too often by sending a shot into the student section.
His lateral quickness, at times, makes you think against more athletic four’s he could have some difficulty. His positioning is fine, but his recovery speed in the event that he gets beat isn’t really there. It’s something that he could work to stave off, but it’s mostly just a physical attribute he doesn’t have.
To utilize Geben’s shot, he is going to have to be set up via a play, because he isn’t going to beat anyone off the dribble outside of the most sloth-like defender. As I said before, that’s not necessarily a terrible thing, but don’t expect him to score on his own. Playing with Tre Campbell is a luxury he may not have all the time, so who knows how his statistics would differ without a premier point guard.
Finally, his ball handling isn’t the best. He’s a big man, and most big men aren’t good ball handlers, but it’s something he needs to work on. I can’t see him getting by any defenders without become a little more effective putting the ball on the floor.
Geben is a bona-fide talent. I’m amazed it took until this summer for people to notice him, to be frank. A guy like Geben is someone who you want on your team; he does anything and everything it takes to win. Geben may never wow you, but some of the best guys don’t need to.
As far as need for the Terps, Geben adds another big body into the mix and someone who can shoot from the perimeter if need be. But Maryland seems to be hell-bent on finding a rim protector, and Geben definitively doesn’t fill that need as well as someone like Travon Reed or Goodluck Okonoboh would.
Overall though, I’d be more than confident that Geben would be a steady contributor on any Maryland team.