I recently got the chance to speak at length with an NBA scout, and while the conversation touched on many topics — the talent level in the Mountain West, the draft status of several players, etc. — we ended up spending most of the time talking about Anthony Bennett.
The Rebels’ freshman is posting 18.5 points and 8.7 rebounds per game, and we’ve heard college players, coaches and analysts talk about how sensational he’s been. But it was interesting to get an NBA perspective on Bennett, who will most likely turn pro after this season.
Among the more interesting notes:
He’s a lottery pick, with room to move up
The scout said it’s pretty well established within NBA circles that Bennett is going to be a lottery pick, but with almost half the season left to play, there’s room for him to move even higher on draft boards. “He’s obviously got a very impressive body, and his ability to score is intriguing,” said the scout. “He’s athletic and he’s got a lot of growth potential. All of that is attractive when you’re talking about the draft. There’s still enough time for him to move up to being a very high pick.”
Position could hurt or help
Bennett has mostly played power forward and center at UNLV, but at 6-foot-8, he may lack the height to be a full-time power forward in the NBA. But his tweener status may not necessarily be a negative, because the scout believes Bennett has the skill to play some small forward at the next level. “I think he’s one of those guys you could probably project at either position,” he said. “He’s quick enough and strong enough to play either. He’s proven to be a heavy-duty rebounder, and usually that’s a skill that carries over to the NBA regardless of position. That versatility is something that should enhance his value.” The scout also noted that the current trend toward small-ball should help Bennett adapt to the NBA.
Red flags not an issue yet
Because it’s still so early in the draft process, NBA teams haven’t started nit-picking Bennett’s flaws yet. Issues like his conditioning and his injury history have to be fully vetted before the draft, but that will probably happen after the college season. “That stuff comes up later,” said the scout. “We spend a lot of time trying to get to the bottom of what we consider to be ‘red flags,’ so all that stuff is still TBA.”
No obvious comparisons
Because of Bennett’s positional flexibility and inside-out skills, there aren’t a lot of easy comparisons to current or former NBA players. Personally, I like him as a super-charged, more athletic Paul Millsap. But the scout said it’s hard to compare Bennett to anyone, skill-wise. “He’s one of those unique guys,” he said. “And because he doesn’t really have one true position it makes him hard to peg. It’s almost doing him a disservice to say he’s going to be a Karl Malone-type player, because there’s still so much room for him to grow. It’s hard to project what the finished product is going to look like.”
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