For the last two months, I’ve been discussing possible candidates for the Cavaliers with their pick in the 2013 draft. With the top pick secured, I narrowed the list, and there was one option left uncovered as of yet here at WFNY in the film room, UNLV power forward Anthony Bennett. While the longest of shots behind Noel, Porter, McLemore, Len, and Oladipo in all likelihood, Bennett flashes a unique style of play that does have a market in the NBA.
The Cavaliers have a power forward in Tristan Thompson, but should that stop the wine and gold from drafting one of the highest ceiling players at the top of the draft board?
Let’s hear about what other have to say regarding the Runnin’ Rebel product out of Canada.
“Bennett has expanded his game offensively and become almost unguardable during his first season of college ball … Bennett’s transition to the college game has been seamless … What grabs your attention about Bennett is his focus and intensity … Imposing physical specimen. Huge hands, wide shoulders and an enormous wingspan gives him great ability to dunk the ball with power … He’s very athletic, long, quick & fast. With a 7’1 wingspan & impressive inch vertical he poses nightmare problems in terms of mismatches … Able to overpower smaller defenders & bigger defenders get “outquicked” and often dunked on … Bennett is best at the power game in the paint, where at least 70 % of his scoring total comes from … When charting his shots on the season he has literally scored from every power spot on the floor … He favors the right side of the floor consisting of floaters, tip ins, reverse layups & dunks 60% of the time. Bennett’s 42 dunks put him among the country’s leaders. Bennett has made 23 3 pointers this season and averages 1 make per game. Bennett’s sweet spot is the left perimeter where he’s made 40% of his 3 pointers. His go to midrange move is his face up jumper from the right baseline … Two words that bode well for Bennett’s future are productivity and efficiency …His prep career was marred with injuries as he was not able to finish out either his junior or senior seasons. On the positive side he hasn’t had any such problems in college having not missed a single practice much less game … There are some questions about his toughness. He’s got a massive frame with incredible strength, but for as big and strong as he is, it doesn’t always appear that he seeks out contact, or play with ferocity on the boards …”
“Not standing out in usage in any one playtype, Bennett did a little bit of everything for UNLV. He scored an average 0.89 points per-possession in the post, but an impressive 1.39 PPP as a finisher at the rim, the second best mark among his peers and the byproduct of his above average efficiency scoring on put backs and cuts.
In addition to the efficiency his athleticism afforded him around the basket, Bennett also proves to be a potent jump shooter on paper. Ranking fifth in this group with 3.5 jump shot attempts per-game and fourth scoring 1.06 points per-jump shot, Bennett has uncommon scoring ability from the perimeter for player with his physical gifts.
Bennett doesn’t have too many weaknesses on paper situationally aside from his lack of prolific scoring ability one-on-one and in the post. It will be interesting to see if he can translate his efficiency to the next level and become a more dynamic threat creating for himself in the paint or facing up from the midrange in the coming seasons.”
“Despite being 6-foot-7, Bennett’s wingspan makes him essentially a 6-foot-9 player and he’s got massive shoulders and hands. Bennett wins the award for most vicious dunks in college as he had numerous dunks that reminded fans of Shaq. He lacks the foot speed to defend on the perimeter, essentially making him a stretch 4. Some scouts have even mentioned him as a potential No. 1 pick, though that’s probably a reach, considering he’s a tweener and the last 6-foot-9 or under PF to go first was Kenyon Martin. Bennett battled injury problems in high school and appeared to be breaking down some towards the end of the year. His postseason shoulder surgery reinforces his reputation for being injury prone and has made it impossible for him to work out for teams leading up to the draft.”
“An explosive athlete who can score from anywhere on the floor, Bennett is a beast in transition and a terrific finisher. He also has 3-point range and is a good ball handler. Bennett is undersized as an NBA power forward and can get lost on defense, but he had a terrific freshman season. The question is, at what point are you willing to draft an undersized power forward?”
27.1 MPG, 16.1 PTS, 8.1 RBS, 1.2 BLK, 1.0 AST, 0.7 STL, 1.9 TO
53.3% FG, 37.5% 3PT, 70.1% FT, 12 20+ point games, 12 double-doubles in 35 games.
YouTube – DraftExpress
Without further ado, let’s dive into film of Bennett’s tournament game, an opening round loss for his UNLV Runnin’ Rebels against the Cal Bears. In this game, Bennett shot just 4-for-11 but still managed to post 15 points and 11 rebounds in 37 minutes.
We begin with Bennett’s work in the post. As he posts up on the left block (Bennett is #15 in white), you can see the wide frame and long arms that he has. There are very few scenarios with UNLV where Bennett didn’t have the ball in his hands or was busting his hump to get open.
Bennett uses his arms and legs incredibly well in the post to generate an opening. Here, instead of getting a post feed, he does an excellent job of sealing his man and opens up a driving lane for his teammate.
As he heads to the rack, Bennett stays in step, still looking for the ball. For this, he is rewarded with a dump-off pass as the helpside defense closes.
Bennett wrestles it away from two defenders and puts it in with the right-hand half-hook. Bennett’s shooting figures inside the arc are very impressive, with a 58.7% field goal percentage inside the arc, a 58.0% effective field goal percentage (88th in nation), and 60.9% true shooting percentage (89th in nation). His touch around the rim is definitely one of his strengths.
Next, we’ll see Bennett make a play on the defensive end that leads to another post feed. I highlight the defensive play, because there aren’t many of them with Bennett. In fact, it’s one of the biggest digs against the young prospect. As the Cal player drives, Bennett steps in to help against the penetration.
Bennett helps make a play on the ball to challenge the shot attempt and knock the ball loose. Bennett’s 7’1″ wingspan gives him a valuable weapon on defense to get in the passing lanes, but his instincts on defense leave a lot to be desired.
In transition, Bennett leaks out after the deflection and sprints down to the other end to post up. Again, Anthony has a wide box frame with legs wide, in a crouch, and arms out with elbows pointed back to pin his man. You can’t teach effort, and Bennett has it at this end without the ball.
Bennett turns around quickly and makes a quick, strong move right into his man to draw contact.
Even though I would definitely consider Anthony Bennett a below the rim player, he knows how to get his shot off without getting blocked. Undersized guys need to be crafty and know how to draw contact with their lower body. Bennett doesn’t make the shot, but he goes to the line, where he spent a good chunk of this game, converting 7-of-10 attempts. Bennett was just a 70% shooter at the line, but he went there about 5 times per game, so it’s a big part of what he does out on the floor.
Here’s one more look at Bennett operating of the low post. Again, we see Bennett getting great position, giving the guard a good passing angle.
Bennett can turn and pop a quick shot, take it off the dribble with either hand, or make a power move to draw contact.
This time, he turns left and goes middle as opposed to going right previously. The screen grab below is a perfect example of drawing contact and then using that contact to create separation to get a shot off. Bennett uses a high arc here to get the shot off and up over the outstretched arms of the defender for the hoop.
In this set, Bennett gets the ball a little bit further out, one up and one out from the low post, if you will. Bennett starts with his back to the basket.
As is customary, Bennett turns and faces to assess his options.
Bennett likes the space that the Cal defender is giving him and chooses to rise up and shoot the mid-range jumper. Bennett actually misfired long off the back of the rim on this one, but he got a really quick release, and it shows that he’s confident shooting it pretty much anywhere in a halfcourt set.
Next, Bennett gets it on the right block and quickly pivots to turn and face.
Bennett uses his dribble to take a step out and encounters a second defender to his right.
There’s a crack in the defense, and Bennett uses his left to get into the paint. The single most shocking thing to me watching Bennett play an entire game rather than snippets or a highlight reel was his comfort level with turning and facing to take someone off the dribble. For a right-handed power forward, he’s pretty darn comfortable with his left hand.
Watch Bennett’s right shoulder and behind as it creates space for him.
That push and strength inside allows him to push off and shoot straight up and down. Bennett misses this one, but he’s fouled in the process and heads back to the charity stripe one more time.
How often do you see a power forward lead the fastbreak? Well, you’re about to see it. Bennett grabs the defensive rebound and surges into the frontcourt, no outlet to the point guard needed.
Bennett makes a fantastic hesitation move at the three-point arc in the open court while keeping his dribble and puts the Cal defender in quicksand.
Bennett reaches the middle of the paint and gets fouled again, missing the shot.
Moving right along, this time, Bennett is out to nearly the three-point arc when he catches the pass, back to the hoop. Bennett’s range demands that defenses respect his shot out there with his average of about one made three per contest.
This time, Bennett goes middle with his right hand as he gets the angle and uses his shoulders to make that opening even more opportunistic.
Bennett floats a bit on this one left to right and misses the shot below in the middle of the key.
One snippet of Bennett’s work on the glass is showcased below on a missed three-point shot attempt from the left wing. Bennett is being boxed out by his man on the right block.
The rebound comes off long as they always do on long range shots, and Bennett uses his long arms to corral it.
The Rebel big man wastes no time in going right back up with it, keeping the ball high to prevent a chip-out scenario from a helpside guard.
The chip comes anyway, and Bennett finishes while drawing a foul too. Bennett goes ahead and converts the and-one in this crucial end game scenario to close the deficit to just two points. Bennett’s rebound numbers were solid, ranking in the top 300 in offensive rebounding and the top 125 in defensive rebounds. The one place that he does seem to consistently be in the right place on the defensive end is rebounding the basketball.
Bennett is not your typical stretch four man in terms of athleticism, but he does have the three-point stroke to warrant attention. Bennett was 36-for-96 on the season from deep. In this offensive set, Bennett sets a screen for his guard and fades to the left wing.
Bennett catches the pass deep behind the three-point line and quickly looks to make a move.
Bennett takes one step and rises to fire, drawing an overaggressive contest.
Bennett misses the shot but gets fouled on the shot.
When we started talking about who we wanted out of this draft (or more specifically, who we DIDN’T want out of this draft), Anthony Bennett’s name came out of my mouth more than once. Power forward, an undersized power forward from a non-power conference school? No thanks.
I’ve come around a bit on Bennett, partially because we’ve seen below-the-rim guys like Zach Randolph and Kevin Love succeed. I’ve mentioned before that I wasn’t really high on Love coming out of UCLA, and obviously, that was a mistake. It doesn’t take long to poke holes in the games of any one of these top six options for the Cavaliers between Noel, Porter, Oladipo, Len, McLemore, and Bennett. Maybe Bennett doesn’t have a natural position. He isn’t a good defender, and his lack of height and below the rim game is going to work against him sometimes. But, the guy can flat-out shoot and score in a variety of ways. And, maybe in this draft, that’s enough to warrant the top selection.
There is the case of what to do with Tristan Thompson if you take Bennett. It’s a little different than the shooting guard crunch if you draft either Oladipo or McLemore. That’s because Dion’s backup point guard skills give you some additional wiggle room along with the concept of the shooting guard/small forward positions being a little more interchangeable at both ends of the floor. Can you play a few minutes each game with a small lineup of Bennett at the four and Thompson at the five? I would say yes, but sparingly. If Bennett is your guy, you have to take him though. This is truly the toughest fit in my opinion out of the top six guys, because I really do like Tristan Thompson, and I think he’ s only going to get better next year and beyond. However, he’s not a center (he’s probably a little on the small side for power forward as it is), and you are going to have to make a decision at some point on whether keeping him at a time share at the four spot is an effective use of the talent on the roster if you take Bennett.
Going back to my pie chart from last Sunday, is there any room for a slice for Anthony? Sure, I’ll revise it a little bit to throw Bennett a few Cavalier draft votes.
In my recount, I’m cooling a bit more on McLemore and Noel and am feeling a little bit better about both Bennett and Len. Overall, I still lean towards Otto Porter for the best fit for present and future to make an impact at both ends. To sum it up, I think Otto Porter has the best chance to be the best player.
Until next time, the film room is closed!
(Photo: Jeff Bottari/Getty Images)