Anthony Bennett is the best pure power forward prospect in this year’s draft class. Due to his massive size, he could probably play defensive end on UNLV’s football team. Bennett benefited by finishing his high school career at Findlay Prep, a well-known high school boys basketball powerhouse, and is one of Canada’s most intriguing prospects. It wouldn’t be a surprise if Bennett found his way into one of the top spots in the 2013 Draft after a strong combine season.
Bennett, who measured at 6-7 at the Nike Hoop Summit, is a little undersized for the power forward position at the elite level, but his athleticism, leaping ability, strong 239-pound frame, and 7-1 wingspan definitely make up for it. He becomes a matchup nightmare for opposing defenses and can continue to be one at the next level.
*** *** ***
NBA Comparison: Paul Millsap
Comparing Bennett and Millsap seems like mixing green apples with red. At the end of the day, you still have apples, the aforementioned, however, just happen to have great futures ahead of them. Looking at just the basics, both Millsap and Bennett are both the same size. Each player stands around 6-8 and weighs between 240 and 255 pounds, with a similar wingspan size around 7-1. Their “do-it-all” combo forward playing styles translate as well.
Millsap has shown a vast improvement not only on his midrange game and his strength, but also on his shot selection from the perimeter since entering the league. The former Louisiana Tech Bulldog shot 33 percent from the arc to combine with 49 percent from the field for 14.6 points and 7.1 rebounds per game in 78 contests this season. Bennett did a little of the same, just more often with the ball in his hands this season for UNLV. The Brampton, Ontario native averaged 16.1 points and 8.1 rebounds in 35 games for the Rebels, and shot 37.5 percent from deep at the closer college three-point line.
Besides perimeter shooting, offensively, Millsap and Bennett are identical. Both proved their midrange prowess, strength, athleticism, and overall play style centered on being undersized forwards. The difference for Bennett will be how he adjusts to a faster frontcourt in the NBA now that players like Carmelo Anthony and LeBron James are moving down towards the power forward position.
Another solid point is that neither turns the ball over frequently. During a six-year career in the NBA, Millsap only turns the ball over 1.5 times a game. Similarly, Bennett only turned the ball over 1.9 times his freshman season, a number he can easily work on. The only place where they find difficulty is defensively, where Bennett needs more work than his NBA counterpart.
At times, Bennett looks lackadaisical defensively and can show poor conditioning when streaking down court on defense. He’s not always in a defensive stance and doesn’t always look interested defensively when it comes to blocks (1.2 this season) or steals; he averaged less than one steal in his last eight games of the regular season. Even though Bennett is lacking many things defensively, he could prove to be a better prospect than Millsap ever was.
Bennett has elite athleticism for the stretch forward position with his vertical leap, explosiveness and quickness. The only reason he doesn’t have a perfect score in this section is because of how his athleticism would translate should he move to the wing position at any time. Scouts are unsure of the matchup capabilities at that point.
When it comes to post skills, Bennett is just average. His size and broad shoulders and strength moved plenty of smaller forwards at the collegiate level but may not do the same in the NBA. His midrange skill and shooting touch around the rim gives him enough of a boost to give him a middle of the road grade here.
NBA READINESS: 8
Bennett has the body of an NBA player, the athleticism, the strength and the midrange game, but with some nagging injuries, poor effort on the defensive side of the ball and his inconsistency rebounding the ball makes some question his ability. Still, under the right coaching staff, he could turn into a more motivated player.
Bennett has all of the potential in the world if he sets his mind to it. While he is great offensively, he has a bunch of untapped potential not only defensively, but also when it comes to rebounding. He can also improve his perimeter shot. Although he lacks some things, he could turn into a 20/8 scoring and rebounding threat down the line. Bennett could turn into one of the gems of the draft if he’s up to it.
It’s quite concerning when you see a player as unplugged as Bennett defensively. He seems like a player that is more focused on offense, and that’s perfectly fine, but an NBA organization isn’t the same as a collegiate one. There has to be an eventual focus defensively. That being said, Bennett showed improvement during his freshman season in this spot and had at least double-figures in all but two games this season. I’m sure he’ll get it together on the other end at some point.
– Imposing physical specimen, huge hands, shoulders and midsection that allows for emphatic slams
– Very athletic and imposing frame, giant wingspan at 7-1
– One of the most versatile big men you’ll see during a freshman campaign in college
– Capable of scoring around the paint at a rate of 74 percent, has developed a faceup midrange shot, converts one three-point attempt per contest, shot 32 percent from the arc, 40 percent from the left side of the floor
– Tremendous ballhandler for his position; puts the ball on the floor and creates for himself and others
– Doesn’t turn the ball over often
– Constantly makes mismatches: overpowers smaller defenders, faster than bigger opponents
– Adept at drawing fouls when contact is made
– Favors the right side of the floor, 60 percent of the time he’ll use tip-ins, dunks and reverse lay-ins
– Very nice shooting stroke, good release
– Extremely efficient and productive; if he played 40 minutes per game he would only turn the ball over twice and would average 26.2 points per game based on this season’s stats
– Good free throw shooter, averaged 75 percent on the season
– Huge room for improvement defensively but can make plays when dialed in; has a keen knack of blocking shots; gets his hands on loose balls; has good lateral quickness and great anticipation
– A bit undersized to guard true power forwards in the NBA
– Quick enough to guard the four spot but too slow to guard the three spot at the next level
– Could potentially be injury-prone after a high school career that was riddled with injuries
– Doesn’t play with enough toughness on the court
– Defensively he has to grow to become superb at the NBA level; leaves his stance defensively, looks like he’s only going half speed a lot of times down the floor; loses focus easily
– Regularly gives up deep position in the post
– Constantly loses track of his matchups defensively
– Needs to maximize his fundamentals on the defensive side of the ball
– Seems like his conditioning needs the most work; if made to be even average his skills could improve a surprising amount
– Lacks intensity at times
– Doesn’t really crash the boards defensively, allows rebounds to fall to him even though he averaged eight boards per game
– Appears disinterested defensively
Draft Projection: First Round, Pick No. 4 to the Charlotte Bobcats – No. 6 to the Phoenix Suns
Bennett is a great prospect offensively for any team that’s lacking a cog in the frontcourt. Should he get selected by the Bobcats, he would be a great fit for a struggling roster (as would any top-10 pick for the Bobcats). Falling to the Suns, Bennett could make a hybrid frontcourt between Luis Scola, himself and Michael Beasley.
Bennett is an unusual combination of Millsap and Zach Randolph due to his ability to shoot anywhere on the floor. Depending on where he falls, he could come into a system and start immediately or become a role player for a while. Regardless, Bennett may turn into a prospect that has a long future in the NBA.
5. Bennett scores 25 versus Cal
4. Bennett highlights against UNC
3. Nasty Dunk over Portland to put an exclamation point on a win
2. Bennett jumps over Mozilla during the Scarlet versus Grey game
1. Bennett jams over two defenders
How good will he be?
Follow Tyler on Twitter at @RealTylerTynes.
Follow Dime on Twitter at @DimeMag.
Become a fan of Dime Magazine on Facebook HERE.