Anthony Bennett: Phoenix Suns 2013 NBA Draft profile

Posted by on June 2nd, 11:51 am

Strengths

There are very few certainties going into this year’s NBA Draft, but Anthony Bennett being far and away the most polished frontcourt player at the offensive end is unquestionably among them. While he may look like an undersized four at 6-foot-8, the UNLV standout is a multidimensional scorer and a terrific threat both in the lane and from the perimeter.

Bennett is freakishly athletic for his size, finishes at the rim extremely well with either hand and surprisingly has some touch in the paint when pushed away from the basket.

While the Toronto native has the length and athleticism to be a terrorizing force down low, it’s his knack for the three-point shot that really gives opposing defenders reason to panic. As a freshman, Bennett averaged exactly one three-point field goal make a game and shot 37.5 for the season. On four separate occasions, he made three or more in a game. Although it’s not his primary offensive weapon, Bennett’s ability to face up to the basket and hit jump shots with confidence will almost certainly play an important role in how successful he is at the next level.

Question marks

Heading into the draft process, Bennett’s defensive laziness, up-and-down motor and size were among the major concerns NBA scouts had, but at this point, those are secondary to his health.

On May 8, the UNLV forward went under the knife to repair the rotator cuff in his left shoulder. At the time of Bennett’s surgery, his recovery time was listed at about four months – meaning his draft stock wouldn’t be influenced by the NBA Combine or individual team workouts.

Bennett’s shoulder issue presents a small red flag only because he was injury-plagued throughout his last two years in high school as well. His surgeon, Dr. David Altchek, however, said the damage done to his rotator cuff was by no means considered career-threatening and that Bennett is expected to make a full recovery.

While teams would have liked to have seen what Bennett could do in a controlled setting like the NBA Combine, all and all, his absence shouldn’t affect where his name is called on June 27.

“You always would prefer a guy is healthy, works out for you and can play in summer league,” one GM told ESPN.com. “However, I don’t think in this case that it will really matter. We got a good feel for his game. He’s one of the most NBA-ready prospects in the draft. I wouldn’t blink taking him in the Top 5 as long as the surgery is successful.”

X-factor

Although he spent just a year with the Running Rebels, Bennett did more than enough to prove his worth as a top 5 pick. The former McDonald’s All-American has all the traits that make for a great low-post scorer — 7-foot-1 wingspan, impressive footwork and an ability to create space for himself in the lane or at the basket — but he also has a few that are not common for one-year college prospects.

Among NCAA frontcourt players, Bennett was as efficient as they come in 2012-13. Per 40 minutes, he averaged over 26 points per game and had a true shooting percentage around 60 percent.

He can score in just about every way imaginable – dunks, tip-ins, eight-foot floaters, free throws three-point shots – and did so at a very consistent level as a freshman.

Laziness might be a concern at the defensive end but it’s never been one for Bennett at the offensive end. He is relentless on the glass, an above-average ball handler and a threat to score regardless of where he is on the floor.

Few other players being considered in this year’s lottery can say that.

How would he fit with the Suns?

The Suns desperately need a low-post scorer and Bennett would seem to fit the bill rather nicely. In the absence of Amar’e Stoudemire, Phoenix has relied on the likes of Channing Frye, Hakim Warrick, Luis Scola, Marcus Morris and Markieff Morris to pick up the production in and around the paint, but the problem is none of those guys have above-the-rim athleticism or a desire to bang in the post.

Bennett can space the floor and has the threat of a jump shot Markieff Morris and Scola, but he also has the quickness to beat his man to the basket and isn’t afraid to get physical on the glass – skills the aforementioned Suns players don’t exactly have in their respective repertoires.

It’s hard to see how he fits in only because of the logjam that currently exists at the four (Morris twins, Scola and potentially Frye if healthy), but if Ryan McDonough wants to start building over the roster, drafting Bennett isn’t a bad place to start.

And 1 … A second-rounder to consider

In a draft full of talented shooting guards, the Suns might have the opportunity to snag one with their late second-round pick. Illionis’ Brandon Paul is by no means as gifted as a Ben McLemore, Victor Oladipo or Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, but he’s a low-risk prospect that could grow into a nice piece in the coming years.

Despite being a tad undersized at his position, Paul, who led the Illini in scoring (16.6 points per game) his senior year, has the skill set to succeed as an NBA two-guard. He has terrific length, an explosive first step and never shies away from finishing at the basket or above the rim.

The former Mr. Basketball of Illinois has a clean shot in terms of mechanics, but he did struggle with his consistency in 2012-13. While Paul has a tendency to rely on his jump shot an awful lot– 70 percent of all shots this past season came on jumpers – his efficiency (40.1 field goal percentage and 32.5 three-point percentage) leaves something to be desired. He has a terrific crossover dribble and can create space for himself at any time, but still relies on playing from the perimeter a little too much.

It’s never a bad option when you can get a guy who finished seventh in the NCAA in points per-40 minutes pace adjusted with the No. 57 pick. Paul might not yield big rewards right away, but with his offensive prowess, the former Illinois guard has late-round steal potential written all over him.

Dave Dulberg

Dave Dulberg is a ValleyoftheSuns staff writer who recently graduated from the University of Southern California. He also works as a web content writer/editor for Arizona Sports 620 KTAR.

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Tags: Draft · Phoenix Suns · Phoenix Suns Analysis

13 responses so far ↓

  • 1 Scott // Jun 2, 2013 at 12:29 pm

    Brandon Paul may not be drafted, but if so he’s an obvious choice for an invite to Summer League and possible addition to the roster, like Tucker.

    As for Bennett, his risk / reward profile to me is what you’d consider further down in the draft. Taking him up high … I think you’d prefer to take more of a sure thing.

    He looks like he could turn out to be a Beasley (tweener forward who doesn’t play defense), but with an injury history to boot.

  • 2 foreveris2long // Jun 2, 2013 at 1:13 pm

    I would take Len, Oladipo, McLemore, McCollum or T.Burke instead of Bennett. I saw him play 3 times and I think he loses focus and or is lazy on defense.

  • 3 Dominik // Jun 2, 2013 at 2:00 pm

    @ Scott
    I had the same thoughts on Bennett. He could end up just like Beasley. Before drafting another tweener, we could simply wait and see how Hornacek handles Beasley.

  • 4 Dan.C133 // Jun 2, 2013 at 4:42 pm

    I still say if his behavior issues are in the past Glen Robinson Jr is the steal in this draft. The kid can flat out score. He rebounds well for a 2 and plays decent D. He has the makings of a post game and can score with either hand. He has decent handles and can shoot off the dribble as well as off screens or spot up.

    For those that keep harping on Len don’t he’ll never be more then a back up in the NBA. I live in Vegas now and Bennett can score and rebound but is a POOR defender and OFTEN takes plays off.

    When Frye comes back some of our problems at 4/5 are addressed and others can be with some combo of Gortat, Scola, Free agents, and trades.

    I might be on the kool-aid but I like a back court of Robinson & Dragon better then any that include who we almost overpaid for last year. If we continue starting Tucker we need more offense at the 2 to offset his deficiencies.

    We will still be a year from the playoffs but I can see that as a nice starting foundation that will be fun to watch and compliment each other nicely. You can’t slack off either at the 3 and can’t press too close either as both can get a shot off of the dribble and finish at the rack.

  • 5 bill.thomas // Jun 2, 2013 at 8:47 pm

    @Dan: Are you thinkiong of Hardaway or Robinso? I like them both but both are a little raw. Robinson is listed as No. 8 in a 2014 Mock and I have not seen him in the top 60 of any 2013 mock. Not sure he is coming out at all.

    Hardaway has potential, but needs to work on his shot mechanics. I hear Tiger Woods may be available for that.

    With who is on the board in 2014 Len may be a nice safe choice. There are really no “heads-over-the-class” centers anywhere, and Gortat is not a long term solution, nor is a 3-headed or 4-headed center. I agree that Bennett has a lot of potential but also a lot of question marks and if we can get Oladipo or Len that’s who I would prefer.

    I would add McLemore but it looks like we have no chance for him.

    I would never take Burke while we have Dragic unless we have a killer trade involving Dragic lined up. There are also other potential points further down the line and in 2014 if Marshall does not fulfill his potential.

    I am very interested in us taking a lok at Dedmon from USC as a potential project center f we are not sure about Len or we can get Oladipo instead of Len. He much reminds me of Andre Jordan and we could certainly get him with the 30th pick and maybe later.

    I am all for buying or trading for additional picks anywhere between 10 and 35.

    Portland is working out all 2nd unit guys, maybe they intend to trade their pick. Gortat would make them an instant contender in this now weakened West.

    They might even take Beasley as at least he can score the ball, and sometimes in bushellfulls when he comes focused, and Portland has no bench whatever. I would prefer not to take any of their chaff such as Freeland or that other idiot who will never make it.

  • 6 bill.thomas // Jun 2, 2013 at 8:58 pm

    Some wonk on Portland’s blog site corresponding to BSOTS has a very nice statistical work-up of draft choices comparing them to past and current NBA players; not sure if I agree with his conclusions nor do I completely understand his methodology but it looks pretty substantive. You could use it for a takeoff point then modify it to suit your own needs or methodology. Takes a little guesswork out.

  • 7 bill.thomas // Jun 2, 2013 at 9:04 pm

    BTW, these mock drafts are partly a big joke. I know I’ll catch hell from you Ohio State folks (or, excuse me, THE Ohio State University) but Aaron Craft will never be much better than Brown or Telfair in the NBA and ranking him ahead of LeBryan Nash and Jerian Grant (and others) on Draft Express just shows you the nature of these things.

  • 8 bill.thomas // Jun 2, 2013 at 9:15 pm

    I would take a good look at James Sutherland as a role player with our 57th pick or sooner. Seems to be quite underrated. A poor man’s Crabbe, and Crabbe is not necessarily a lot better.

    CJ Fair would also be of interest next year; not a Syracuse fan here, just saw them play a fair bit.

  • 9 Scott // Jun 2, 2013 at 10:21 pm

    All I see on Portland sites are complaints that they need a defensive center. Seems to me that if the fans’ pleas also represent the thoughts of their GM, then a possible destination for Gortat could be Portland, in exchange for their #10.

    There’s some real possibility for this, as one interview states:

    “We are going to be aggressive to construct a deal to make the team better on draft night,” [Portland GM] Olshey said.

    Olshey is referring to a trade where the Blazers would absorb the contract of a proven center in exchange for one or more draft picks, allowing the Blazers to avoid a free agent bidding war while giving the other team financial relief. The Blazers would use most, if not all, of their expected $11.6 million in cap space to execute the trade, which wouldn’t become official until July 11.

    The Blazers’ top priority is to find a starting center, preferably one that is defensively gifted, and Olshey said he has several scenarios he will pursue.

    [...] Also, Phoenix, a team in a full-blown youth movement that is looking to cut costs, has Marcin Gortat, $7.7 million.

    @bill. -

    I don’t think Southerland will get drafted, but you can bet he’ll be on someone’s Summer League team. He could get in if someone has an opening at SF. If the Suns have an opening, they should look for him.

    @dan. -

    Glen Robinson isn’t in this year’s draft, but Glen Rice is. Both play SF, but have the size to play SG in the NBA if they can defend that spot.

  • 10 Keith // Jun 2, 2013 at 10:34 pm

    Agreed with the article. Bennett is a great pick. I’d rather have Oladipo but if is gone, I’d absolutely take Bennett. As mentioned, we need low post scoring in the worst way. He may have the most upside of any player in the draft. There may be some bust potential but I think we’d be a very good fit for him and he’d be just fine. I’d take a long, hard look at him if Dipo is gone and he is there.

  • 11 bill.thomas // Jun 2, 2013 at 11:28 pm

    With this roster, if Bennett can change out a flat without a motorized tool, we’re ahead of the game.

  • 12 Azbballfan // Jun 3, 2013 at 10:30 am

    Bennett will probably be there at 5 unless Charlotte takes him to help their low scoring front court a pick before us at number 4

    I wouldnt pick Bennett at number 5, he has too many questions, and he doesnt play any real defense

    If however, he slips and the Suns can unload a contract like Gortats for Bennett than sure

    But number 5 seems to high

    We would also have to do some serious trades or cutting of guy to give him really good minutes next season

    I think the Suns should

    Cut brown

    Cut Beasley

    Trade Gortat

    Swap the 5th and 57th picks with Olrando for their pick at number 2 and for hedo turkoglus expiring deal or Glen Davis 2 year deal

    If Orlando is willing to give us the 2nd best pick in the draft, and all they want us to do is take back a expiring deal and the 5th pick and change i say do it

    with Gortat in this scenario being traded to Portland for number 10, the Suns would end up with the 2nd pick, 10th pick and 30th pick

    Suns pick trey burke for Orlando at number 5

    Suns pick Best Player Availible at number 2, 10 and 30 and call it a day

    and also because we cut brown and beasley we would be replacing non productive talent with rookies with potential

    Alternatively, we could trade brown and the 30th pick to Houston for Thomas Robinson

    That would give us a lineup of something like

    Dragic, Oladipo, Franklin, Robinson, Len

    Franklin at 30, Oladipo at 2 and len at number 10

    Yeah this team would be starting 3 rookies but who cares

    anythings better than last season

    I keep forgetting about Scola but he could also be moved this summer

    for a future pick, for a young guy, anything.

    even if we go for Glen Davis’ contract we can still do some things to make up for his salary being 2 years and he can start right away at the 4

    the draft is less than a month away i hope McMiracle and Hornacek already know what they want to do

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