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Why PF Anthony Bennett is my #1 ranked 2013 NBA draft prospect

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Choosing the top prospect for this year’s draft hasn’t been any easier for me than everyone else. However I am feeling stronger and stronger about who my top graded prospect is: UNLV PF Anthony Bennett.

Bennett is a unique combination of physical tools, skills and instincts. An area he has dynamic potential in, is as a slasher. With both a strong first step and an impressive ballhandling base, he has the tools to blow by defenders to the rim off the dribble. Once there, he has great strength, vertical explosiveness and a long wingspan to finish. Although Bennett is 6’8, short for a PF – I believe his athleticism, strength and wingspan shouldn’t prevent his ability to finish above the rim and through contact. On the defensive end he isn’t expected to be a shotblocker, but most PFs aren’t. Because of his speed and power, I see Bennett’s talent in the area of physically impacting the game, as clearly above average.

He also has a strong feel for the game. Bennett is a smooth, natural and fluid offensive player who shows the ability to adjust and craftiness off the dribble. He plays at an easy pace. Bennett needs to improve on the defensive end, but his offensive instincts, I expect Bennett’s defensive problems come from youth and inexperience. With his feel for the game along with his athleticism and wingspan, I see little reason to doubt Bennett can be respectable defensively. On the glass he has the body, instincts and college production to average over 9 or 10 rebounds a game in the NBA.

What really excites me about Bennett however, is his skill impact game. For a freshman big, Bennett has impressive shooting range out to the NCAA 3pt line and can create jumpshots off the dribble like a guard. This indicates he has the potential to be an NBA 3pt shooter. In addition to this, Bennett’s freakishly strong frame, low center of gravity and touch around the basket, make him a perfect fit to add a post game in the NBA with the body to hold position and skill to finish. If he had either an NBA 3 or a post game, he’d be a high end skill player for a PF. With both it would potentially make him the most skilled PF in the league. Because of his shooting ability for a young player and post upside, Bennett’s skill game has the upside to be one of the best for his position in the league.

Although my prospect grading system is based on pure talent and not college production, it also doesn’t hurt that Bennett produced at an elite level as a freshman (Per 40 minutes: 22.0 points, 11.0 rebounds, .60 TS%, 27.6 PER). These numbers are especially impressive once considering it came in spite of UNLV’s system and teammates, dominated by shot jacking perimeter guards, instead of a system clearly designed to run plays for Bennett. There have been many talented big men whose production slipped through the cracks in college because of a game suiting perimeter players more, the recipe for Bennett to be the latest of these misused college bigs were there, but in the face of this he still produced at a rare level for a freshman PF.

Here are my talent grades for Bennett using my 3 categories Physical Impact, Skill Impact (Shoot, post, pass) and Feel for the Game under this rubric:

11: Transcendent, 10: Incredible 9: Elite, 8: Great, 7: Very good, 6: Decent, 5: Average, 4: Lacking, 3: Weak, 2: Very poor, 1: Awful

What the overall grades mean:

25+: Perennial all-star talent, 23-24: Blue Chip starter to Perennial all-star talent, 19-22: Blue Chip starter talent, 17-18: Rotation player to Blue Chip starter talent, 14-16: Rotation player talent, 12-13: Deep bench to rotation player talent, 11 or lower: Deep bench player talent

Physical impact talent grade: 8 / Great

Bennett grades well here, due to his upside as an explosive, face-up slasher, with the length and strength to finish at the basket.

Skill impact (Shoot, post, pass) talent grade: 9 / Elite

His best category, due to both shooting range and the tools to be a post player. If everything goes right, regrading this to a 10 or 11 would be conceivable. On the other hand, he could also be only a solid midrange shooter, instead of a 3pt or post player, in which case 7 or 8 would be a more accurate grade.

Feel for the Game talent grade: 8 / Great

An 8 or 9 feels right here. Bennett’s fluidity and natural feel to his game, is a clear strength.

Total talent grade: 25 (Perennial all-star talent grade)

If all goes right, Bennett would have the ability to do all of attack the basket off the dribble, shoot the ball  on the perimeter or score in the post, with the feel for the game to mix it all together. With all these tools, he’d likely be one of the game’s best offensive frontcourt players and a star. There are some questions about whether he’ll prefer to play SF, but I believe Bennett neither has the lateral quickness or ballhandling to play the position, which should rule out that possibility quickly, perhaps to the benefit of his career. Bennett’s grade does not have a huge lead over other prospects near the top of my board like Kelly Olynyk, Gorgui Dieng, Ben McLemore, Victor Oladipo, or Alex Len, but I expect to hold as the top grade until the June draft. I believe Bennett would likely be picked 1st overall if he had been 6’10 instead of 6’8. Due to not only his strength, wingspan and athleticism, but his skill and feel, I see his lack of height as only preventing an even higher upside, not a weakness that will prevent him from dynamic upside. From the last 5 drafts (2009-2013) Bennett is one of 8 players who’s talent I presently grade a 25 or higher (my highest category, “Perennial all-star talent grade”), along with James Harden (2009), Blake Griffin (2009), Paul George (2010), Kyrie Irving (2011), Anthony Davis (2012), Jeremy Lamb (2012), Evan Fournier (2012). I see Bennett as the most likely candidate to the be star this draft is looking for.

Written by jr.

April 27, 2013 at 8:16 pm

Posted in Basketball, NBA Draft

Tagged with , , ,