Anthony Bennett, PF, UNLV (FR) [3/14/1993] - 6'7", 240lbs.
The Canadian bred big man was highly recruited out of Findlay Prep but ultimately decided to attend UNLV. Playing out on the West Coast has kept Anthony Bennett’s name under the radar a bit but his game is anything but that. Powerful, explosive and offensively versatile, Bennett figures to make a large impact as an inside-out threat at power forward.
For Bennett, the first question he must answer is what position he will play. Some will see him as a combo forward, some as a small forward and some as a power forward. Despite measuring in less than 6’7” without shoes at the NBA Combine, he has extremely long arms (7’1” wingspan) and has a NBA ready body (239lbs.) that makes him able to play inside right away.
What will ultimately determine Bennett plays long-term is what position he can best guard. To start, Bennett is an average defender at best. While he largely does possess the physical skills to be a good defender, his motor runs very hot and cold at the defensive end. His defensive fundamentals and understanding of defensive rotations are also very rudimentary to this point. His lateral quickness will most likely expose him on the perimeter more so than his lack of size will on the inside. When in the post, Bennett’s bulk, length and explosive athleticism will allow him to be passable in the post. Out on the perimeter where he will he would be asked to cover athletes in space might be asking him to do too much.
What will also factor into Bennett’s true position at the next level is where he poses the biggest mismatch. His ball-handling is advanced for a big man but would be average for a perimeter player. His first step would be elite for a big man but would just okay for a wing. These factors make him a much harder to handle with big men guarding him than wing players. Even in today’s NBA where big men are becoming more athletic, very few big men would be able to handle Bennett’s combination of athleticism, ball-handling and shooting. He would be a mismatch that could take big men off the dribble, pull them out of the paint with his deadly jump-shot and also score with his back to the basket. His low-post game is still developing, like most are at that age, but he already shows a couple of moves. What he needs to continue to develop is counter moves. But so far, he has shown good touch in various aspects that is very appealing in a big man.
Bennett profiles as a go-to option on the offensive end and someone who could carry the scoring load with his versatile skillset. His skillset was on full display at UNLV where he was allowed to do what he wanted, which even with the vast freedom, still resulted in him shooting very efficiently from the field and behind the 3-pt line. Players with his offensive repertoire and athletic skillset are hard to come by, which makes him one of the most intriguing players in the draft.
Bennett will also make his presence on the glass, where is able to carve out space thanks to his NBA ready body, long arms and soft hands. He needs to rebound at a more consistent rate, which is related to his hot and cold motor, but has the skillset to get even better as a rebounder the next level. His unique skillset was often on display at UNLV where he showed the ability to go coast-to-coast after grabbing a rebound.
Other areas he will need to continue to develop will be his shot-selection and decision-making on the offensive end. While he won’t be relied on to be a distributor, he will need to be more aware in making the right play. But with high usage players like Bennett, turnovers are a part of the category.
Bennett will never be considered a shot-blocker and won’t gather a lot of steals but that isn’t a part of his game. What makes him unique and attractive to NBA teams is his upside and what he offers offensively.
For Bennett, his size and lack of position will concern some teams but his upside will also excite those same teams. For both the good and bad he has a lot of Amar’e Stoudemire in his game, which terrorized opposing big men because of his versatile offensive game. Bennett will offer a lot of the same things Stoudemire did but has a long way to go in terms of his development to be considering on the same level.