PHOENIX — Anthony Bennett dressed in a Polo and Jordan’s for his visit to the Phoenix Suns on Saturday, but that shouldn’t do much to hinder his draft stock. With a shoulder injury initially called a torn labrum but one that later required surgery, the UNLV forward won’t be able to play until training camp and may miss summer league, but there’s little reason to believe he won’t make a full recovery, Suns general manager Ryan McDonough said.
Bennett, a 20-year-old from Toronto, projects as a hybrid forward who is a tad bit undersized for a 4 but likely to play his pro ball at that spot.
“I think he’s primarily a four but is able to step out and play some three,” McDonough said, citing Bennett’s 37 percent shooting from three-point range. “Huge shoulders, long arms. He’s versatile. That’s one of the strengths of his game.
“I think four will be his primary position,” he added. “If he can guard some threes that’d be a bonus. He actually has a similar body type to Brandon Bass who we had in Boston. Brandon’s not that tall … but Brandon guards LeBron and Carmelo and all those power 3s. I could see Bennett in that same role.”
Before having surgery, Bennett was working out in Long Island with past Suns workout invitees such as Michael Carter-Williams and C.J. McCollum and said he was focusing on honing his perimeter skills. His three-point shot was beyond NBA range, he said, and there was emphasis to put the ball on the deck and also defend faster players.
After blowing up during his sophomore season at Syracuse, Michael Carter-Williams is in theory that rare breed of point guard. Standing 6-foot-5, he’s a truly elite playmaker whose 7.3 assists per game during his 2012-13 season came by playing a very NBA-like style. He can pass with the left or right and has the ball handling abilities that are excellent for a player his size.
Carter-Williams projects as a great pick-and-roll player, and his height and 6-foot-7 wingspan gives him the ability to make passes around and over defenders. Additionally, he’s a solid athlete who again has the skillset to be a great dribble-drive scorer if the help defense doesn’t come.
A small sample size makes Carter-Williams a mystery. Even though he played well and succeeded in the Big East, he played only 10 minutes per game as a freshman and likely has a steeper learning curve simply because of his limited experience. At 21 years old, Carter-Williams isn’t as young as a sophomore might normally be, however.
Strength might be an issue as well. He weighed in at 184 pounds at the combine, and on Thursday Carter-Williams defended his stature with how well he performed in the Big East.
“The Big East is physical,” Carter-Williams said. “The guys there are big and strong …. it prepared me for the best.”
To his defense, Carter-Williams did bench press at the combine eight times.
Skill-wise, the biggest issue for the former Orangeman comes in his jump shot and lack of scoring ability. He averaged 11.9 points per game as a sophomore but shot below 40 percent from the floor and below 30 percent from the college three-point line. His 69.4 percent free throw shooting was also an indicator of his work-in-progress shot.
Versatility may not be what a fan base craving a go-to scorer wants to see, but Porter’s brand of the quality is more dominant than the average do-it-all athlete.
Porter can score (16.2) points, and does it well (48 percent shooting from the floor, 42.2 percent from deep. He can rebound (7.2 rpg). He’s a force on defense (1.8 spg, 0.9 bpg).
Porter’s the kind of prospect that addresses enough areas well enough to make the sum of his impact great enough to make up for the lack thereof in any one area.
There’s no doubt about Porter’s ability to take his game to the pro level, but some wonder whether star potential remains, at least enough to take him with a top pick in the draft.
Porter thrived as a big man in college, but, as of now, lacks the requisite weight to do the same in the NBA. He weighed in at a palty 197.6 pounds at the Draft Combine, leaving him at least 35 pounds shy of ideal post player size.
The Suns announced the roster of their new-look front office on Thursday. General manager Ryan McDonough added some veteran leadership to his front office, another youthful right-hand man and men from a wealth of different backgrounds. Here are a few quick hits on each new addition.
Pat Connelly, assistant general manager: Connelly spent the last seven years working for the Washington Wizards and was most recently the director of player personnel. He has international experience and like the 33-year-old McDonough is relatively young having earned his undergraduate degree from Mount St. Mary’s in 2002. Connelly’s brother, Tim, was formerly the director of player personnel with the Wizards but handed the spot to his brother as he left to take an assistant GM position with New Orleans.
Trevor Bukstein, assistant general manager: The 31-year-old has spent the last three years working under president of basketball operations Lon Babby as the director of basketball administration. His expertise lies in knowledge of the Collective Bargaining Agreement, cap rules and the business number crunching side of things. Like Babby, Bukstein has a sports law background with an undergrad from Michigan and a law degree from Georgetown.
Ronnie Lester, scout: The addition of Lester as a scout gives McDonough a good amount of credibility. Lester was the assistant general manager of the Lakers for 10 of its most successful seasons and is a former NBA player. His eye for talent will give McDonough the ability to oversee the bigger picture and should take some of the pure talent evaluating duties off the GM’s plate.
Like current Suns center Marcin Gortat, Len is a European-born big man. Another similarity between the two?
They’re the tougher versions of Euro big men that NBA franchises have fallen in love with over the last decade.
Len carries evidence of that in the form of a walking boot, the result of ankle surgery after suffering a stress fracture. As the Washington Post pointed out, such an injury isn’t an immediate occurrence. It gets worse over time, a sign that Len’s standout sophomore year at Maryland came despite playing through pain.
He was painful to his opponents too, inflicting 2.1 blocks per contest in addition to 11.9 points on 53 percent shooting and 7.8 rebounds.
Len’s ankle is a big one. It’s unlikely anyone will take a chance on him high in the lottery unless A) the team has exhausted all efforts in ascertaining his path to recovery or B) he slides so far the potential reward outweighs the risk.
If you only look at his junior year statistics at New Mexico (12.5 points, 2.6 rebounds and 2.9 rebounds per game), Tony Snell appears to be nothing more than a nice pickup in the early portion of the second round.
A first-round pick might be a stretch for the former Lobo, but he is one of the top catch-and-shoot (42.2 field goal percentage and 39.0 three-point percentage) prospects in the 2013 Draft Class, with a smooth stroke, good perimeter footwork and an ability to move well without the basketball or off of a teammate’s pick.
Snell doesn’t have elite ball-handling skills, but he can get to the rim rather easily with his long strides, a 6-foot-11 wingspan and first-rate athleticism.
The Riverside native has the shot, the length and the lateral quickness to play the three at both ends of the floor but at 200 pounds he lacks the frame and upper body strength to stay with a majority of the league’s top-flight players at the position.
In addition to concerns about his potential tweener status, Snell’s motor should also be considered a major issue. While he got hot (double-digit scoring in nine of last 10 games to finish the regular season) at just the right time in 2012-13, when things were going bad for the former New Mexico standout, they went real bad. Either he’d continue to throw up bad shot after bad shot, or he’d disappear.
In the Lobos’ six losses last season, Snell averaged just over 10 points per game and shot 36.3 percent from the field. On the year, he had seven 20-point contests, but also had eight games where he made two field goals or less.
While he was certainly streaky in 2012-13, Snell didn’t exactly help himself out by getting to the charity stripe. As a junior, he made 84 percent of his attempts from the free throw line, but often settled for floaters lane rather than letting his dribble take him to the basket.
Snell averaged an abysmal 2.9 free throw attempts per game and on nine different occasions never even took a trip to the line – including New Mexico’s second-round loss in the NCAA Tournament to Harvard.