Anthony Bennett: What to Expect from UNLV Star in NBA

Alex Kay@AlexPKayCorrespondent IMarch 29, 2013

JAN 12, 2013; UNLV Runnin' Rebels forward Anthony Bennett (15) gestures toward the UNLV bench after making a three point shot against the Air Force Academy Falcons in the first half at the Thomas and Mack Center in Las Vegas, NV, USA. Mandatory Credit: Josh H. Holmberg-USA TODAY Sports

Anthony Bennett is one of the most intriguing talents on the board in the upcoming 2013 NBA draft.

According to CBS Sports’ Jeff Goodman, sources indicate the freshman forward recently made his “one-and-done” intentions clear and will officially declare himself eligible for June’s draft in the near future.

Bennett is the No. 4 overall prospect on our latest Top-30 big board. Barring a major, unforeseen incident, he should be a lock to get selected in the early lottery.

Listed at 6’8”, 240 pounds, the Rebels star could be considered a bit of a tweener—if he weren’t such a skilled player at the 4. While some are projecting this youngster to potentially man the 3 at the NBA level, his best attributes shine when he’s slotted in at the PF position.

What Bennett lacks in height, he makes up in pure physicality, strength and desire. He has a 7’1” wingspan, incredible athleticism and a motor that just won’t quit.

The 20-year-old may be a few inches smaller than a prototypical power forward—something that is likely holding him back from being considered for the No. 1 overall pick—but he can more than make up for it by outworking the opposition.

Bennett is one of the strongest players in the class and is constantly outmuscling his man for rebounds on both ends of the floor. He’s able to force his way into position for easy layups and dunks, and can even drag his man out of the paint with his ability to shoot the ball from beyond the arc.

Obviously, Bennett isn’t the perfect prospect. Knocks on him include his somewhat slow feet on defense—especially evident when guarding small forwards—and tendency to shy away from contact, despite possessing a frame that can absorb it with ease.

There’s also a somewhat concerning history of injury, as the forward struggled with various ailments during his high school career at Findlay Prep in Nevada. This forced him to miss time in his junior and senior campaigns. Bennett also suffered from a lower back injury and shoulder issue at the tail end of his lone season at UNLV.

Fortunately, none of these turned out to be too serious and should not impact this blue-chipper’s future in the NBA.

When he finally arrives in the Association, we believe Bennett has the skills required to immediately earn a spot in the rotation and log a significant amount of minutes in his rookie year.

Depending on the situation, he could either start at the PF spot or wind up playing reserve minutes at both the 3 and 4—based on the drafting organization’s depth and talent.

While he may not be a Rookie of the Year candidate, we believe that Bennett’s scoring ability, knack for rebounding and motor will make him a viable reserve that puts up a decent stat line.

He averaged 16.1 points, 8.1 rebounds, 1.2 blocks and a single assist in 27.1 minutes of play with the Rebels, making it realistic to expect him to see the court for 15 to 20 minutes per night and put up nine points, seven rebounds, a block and assist in the right situation.

As he gains experience and trust from the coaching staff, Bennett should wind up becoming quite a solid starter in the Association, able to put up close to a double-double on a nightly basis and contribute to a winning franchise.