Discuss Draft Dreams on Twitter using the #DraftDreams hashtag.
Measurables: 6-foot-7, 239 pounds, freshman forward from UNLV.
Key Stats: 15.8 points, 8.0 rebounds, 0.9 assists, 1.2 blocks per game; shot 52.6 percent from the field and 38.3 percent on 3-pointers
Projected: top-six pick
Bennett had the stereotypical experience of a big-time recruit at a mid-major program on the court, but off the court, UNLV shielded him. Mike Grimala of Vegas Seven:
Not to throw around the term “kid gloves,” but there’s a reason why Bennett is whisked away before reporters can speak to him after practice and has rarely been brought to the podium for postgame press conferences. Like a lot of kids who just turned 20, Bennett is soft-spoken and somewhat camera shy. So if he prefers not to talk to the press, the program is willing to shield him.
And when Bennett’s questionable conditioning led to some notable instances of loafing during early-season games, the blowback from the coaching staff was minimal. Reducing his playing time was out of the question: Why risk upsetting Bennett when the safer option is to let him enjoy his time at UNLV and then watch him smile for the cameras on draft night and tell the world how much he loved it here?
Don’t forget, Rice is a young coach. This is just his second year as the head man, and he’s never gone through the experience of shepherding a one-and-done superstar through a college campaign. Like all kinds of rare good fortune, it’s a complicated business.
Fits with the Pistons because …
He’s really good. Bennett is a better prospect that anyone likely to available to the Pistons at No. 8 (unless you think Trey Burke is likely to be available at No. 8). Joe Dumars has never shown a tendency to reach for need, and if Bennett is the only top prospect to slip, I bet he’s the pick.
Bennett is capable of scoring inside and out, possessing a frame that allows him to bully smaller defenders in the paint and quickness that allows him to drive past bigger defenders for the perimeter.
For all the reasons Bennett scores so well – his size and athleticism – he could be a better defender and rebounder. When given a choice of how to channel their energy, most players would probably focus on scoring. Maybe that’s what UNLV needed, and Bennett can display better peripheral skills at the next level.
Doesn’t fit with the Pistons because …
Bennett moves well for a power forward. He dribbles well for a power forward. He shoots well for a power forward. All those strengths become average at small forward, at least in the short term.
Also, he’ll likely be off the board before the Pistons pick – though of the draft’s consensus top six players, he seems most likely to fall.
From the experts
Bennett might be the most versatile player in the draft. He’s equally comfortable on the perimeter or in the post. While some will call him a "tweener," Bennett is so talented that he looks more like a mismatch waiting to happen. He’ll need to keep his weight down and step up his defense, but he could provide instant offense for whichever team lands him.
Quick fact: Bennett ranked eighth in the nation with 1.3 isolation points per play and did not commit a single turnover on such plays (min. 20 plays).
The place where Bennett has the most room to improve at the moment seems to be on the defensive end. He often looks like he’s only going half speed here, jogging the floor lackadaisically, relaxing in his stance whenever he can, and losing his focus easily. He regularly gives up deep post position to opposing big men without putting up much of a fight, and loses track of his matchup relatively frequently off the ball. Like many young players, Bennett’s fundamentals are fairly poor on this end of the floor, and his intensity leaves a lot to be desired at times. Maximizing his conditioning-level could help here.
With that said, Bennett’s talent does shine through on this end of the floor as well on occasion, as he’s capable of making some very impressive plays with his terrific combination of length, strength, explosiveness and quickness. He can move his feet well, is very difficult to shoot over when he’s dialed in, and has solid anticipation skills blocking shots and getting his hands on loose balls.