NBA Draft profile: Anthony Bennett

NBA Draft profile: Anthony Bennett
June 10, 2013, 11:00 pm

On June 27, the Wizards will take part in the 2013 NBA draft. Currently the owner of picks 3, 38 and 54, the franchise could go in almost any direction with those selections - including trading them - as Washington attempts a sincere playoff push.

Washington's primary needs, some of which will be addressed during free agency, include adding overall scoring punch, finding a power forward with perimeter touch, long-term answer at small forward, plus backups for John Wall and Bradley Beal. Between now and the draft, we’re going to identify some of the players the Wizards might target whether the team stays pat or moves around in the first round with analysis from coaches, scouts, beat writers and national analysts.

Up next, UNLV forward Anthony Bennett. Check below for a running of list of all our draft profiles

Anthony Bennett, UNLV 

Draft Express overall ranking: No. 6 

Height/Weight: 6-7, 239 lbs 

Key stats: 15.8 points, 8.0 rebounds in 2012-13 

The player: From an offensive standpoint, nobody has a higher upside than Bennett, who shot 53 percent from the field and sank 37.5 of his 3-point attempts from beyond the arc during his freshman season. With his powerful frame, deft perimeter touch and ability to drive with either hand, the Canadian forward can score from all angles and take over games in the process. Bennett's 7-foot-1 wingspan offsets concerns about his reported 6-foot-7 height and he was one of the elite offensive rebounders in the college game last season. For all those positives, concerns exist about his conditioning and lack of effort put in on the other end of the court. Those fears appear strong enough that even in a supposed suspect draft, Bennett's superior offensive game may not be enough to justify a top 3-5 selection

The fit: The Wizards tied for last in scoring this past season. Among those currently on the roster, Nene is the only consistent point-producing threat in the frontcourt and the only reliable piece (talent, not health) with a contract beyond this season. Offensive rebounding is not among the team's strengths. Drafting Bennett goes a long way toward fixing these holes while providing the franchise with a long-term fix at one of the forward slots. Many list him as a power forward and we know John Wall for one wants the team to acquire a stretch-four this offseason. Though his post skills need refining, Bennett ranked top-10 nationally by making 74 percent of his attempts around the rim according to DraftExpress.com. Based on his height and where the Mountain West Rookie of the Year likes playing offensively, Bennett's ultimate position may be at small forward assuming he puts in the proper fitness work to defend athletes like Paul George and Carmelo Anthony.

The issue: This video compilation from DraftExpress clearly shows why teams love Bennett's scoring and shot-making potential -- and have serious reservations about the rest of his game. It's not that he isn't a quality defender; it's that Bennett often showed indifference when it came to guarding. Even with their numerous injuries last season, the Wizards were a top-10 defensive team throughout and coach Randy Wittman does not want to jeopardize that improvement. Bennett's relative lack of fitness contributed to his defending woes with asthma often mentioned as factor, though there seems to be some discrepancy as to how much or if at all. He skipped the NBA combine after undergoing rotator cuff surgery in April, meaning he cannot workout for teams before the draft - though he will visit with the Wizards this week. That makes any needed tiebreaking about his various pros and cons left almost entirely to film work and scouting - and perhaps a bit more challenging. 

The analysis (all told exclusively to CSNwashington): 

NBA scout: "I like Bennett a lot. He's somewhat of a tweener, but he's more of a true four than he is anything else. He's physically a beast at times. He's got long arms and athleticism so that offsets his lack of height to some degree. He has one of the higher upsides in the draft. His motor is not always on high, which concerns me a little bit. ...There are times where he looks like he's winded and fatigued out there. ...He can be a matchup nightmare for a lot of teams."

Matt Youmans, UNLV beat writer for Las Vegas Review-Journal: "I do believe Anthony Bennett is the most talented player in this draft, but I do have some concerns if I was going to be an NBA team drafting in the top-5, top-10. He definitely has to improve his conditioning and he's going to have show dramatic improvement on the defensive end of the floor. You have to put him in a situation with a good coach or a veteran team where he's going to get strong guidance and leadership. ... He was not a max effort guy by any stretch of the imagination. ... He's got a great touch from three. He can score inside, has a mid-range jumper. He's got pretty good post moves. The one thing on the offensive end I don't think he's great at this point is handling physical contact, but that's going to come with age and little more experience. I just think he has every tool you need on the offensive end to average 20 points a game in the NBA... He's a small forward. I think he's more of a finesse player still than a physical player. ...When he wanted to play hard, he looked like the most talented player in college basketball. I really like him a lot as an NBA prospect if he lands in the right situation. ... Whoever drafts Anthony has a lot to work with but a lot of work to do."

Ed Isaacson, NBA Scout, NBADraftBlog.com, NBCSports: "He's a unique case. He's a player that is incredibly talented. Has a body for the NBA, but the question is always going to be how much does he really want this...There were times where it just seemed like he quit on his team last year...The biggest challenge for the Wizards or any team drafting Anthony Bennett is getting him to buy in, be part of the system. If it's the Wizards, this is a team being built around John Wall and Bradley Beal. It's not going to be Anthony Bennett's team and I think any team will have a hard time convincing him of that. ...You can put him in many different spots on the floor where he can help you. ... Leaning just the basics of the pick-and-roll, he can get a ton of points just off that."

The summation: When evaluators refer to this draft class as "weak," the reference is not purely about lack of high-end talent. Rather, it's lack of confidence in the talent developing anywhere close to their respective potential, a frightful thought when using a top-5 selection. Bennett is the poster child for such line of thinking. The Wizards need a frontcourt scorer and Bennett is a potential matchup nightmare for opponents, but they need a player that goes hard on both ends. If the UNLV product sincerely works on fixing his conditioning and defense, the Wizards will likely have hit the jackpot and added a legitimate building block to go with Wall and Beal. Whether they want to gamble on drafting him is the question.

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