CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Anthony Bennett arrived in Charlotte early Saturday morning to meet with Bobcats front office executives, unable to do much to answer the biggest question surrounding his game: Is he a tweener or a versatile power forward?
He’s heard the whispers, but the torn labrum in his non-shooting shoulder limited any potential for him to alleviate those concerns in workouts.
“I don’t really pay attention to all that. Some people say I’m a tweener. I’m not tall enough for a power forward, not fast enough for a (small forward),” the UNLV product said. “But I just feel like if I go out there and play hard, it’ll eliminate all that,” Bennett said.
He feels like he could have eliminated some of those concerns if he’d been able to work out. In his opinion, he’s not a tweener, he’s versatile — the classic stretch four that opposing power forwards can’t cover. In college, he was too good of a shooter to slack off of, too strong and long to put a wing on, and too quick and skilled off the bounce for players his size to stay in front of.
“I’m versatile. I can play inside and out,” he said. “My jump shot, once I get that consistent, I feel like that’s going to be a huge advantage for me playing the stretch four. I can shoot, pick and roll, pick and pop, it doesn’t even matter, but I feel like I’ll be a great fit wherever I go.”
He looks like an ideal fit in Charlotte where a scoring power forward is the biggest roster need. It’s pretty clear he expects to go in the top five in next week’s NBA draft. He only went and interviewed with teams who own picks in the top-five with Charlotte being his last trip on the tour.
“It’s a young team, coming up, fast paced, like to get up and down. That’s my game basically,” Bennett said.
Bennett’s game has reminded a lot of basketball observers of the former star of the Queen City –- Larry Johnson, another former Runnin’ Rebel -– and he’s heard the comparisons.
He even asked his assistant coach at UNLV, Stacey Augmon, who played with Johnson at UNLV, about the comparisons and whether he saw any similarities between their games.
“He was like ‘Yeah, it could be true, but [Johnson’s] a hard worker, so you got to live up to the hype,'” Bennett said. “So I went on YouTube and saw his tape when they played Duke in the final and beat them by 30 I think. That’s when I was watching him and he was doing his thing. I think we do some familiar things, but his motor, man, it’s just crazy so I’m going to try and get that.”
The motor’s definitely an area for Bennett to improve on in his game and the time away from basketball will likely hamper his motor when he comes back. He already struggles from asthma and he’s not expected to be back 100 percent until early August. Even then, he thinks that should leave him plenty of time to get back in shape in time for training camp.
In the meantime, all he can do is rehab and wait. Five days from now he’ll have a new city and new team, but right now he knows nothing. The only thing certain is he’ll be drafted and millions await him.
“It’s just crazy everything’s up in the air. I’m just anxious and want to see what’s going on,” Bennett said.
When Bennett’s name is called, he’ll continue the recent trend of Canadian hoop stars invading draft boards, following Tristan Thompson and Cory Joseph. Bennett credits the recent trend to more Canadian players getting on the AAU stage at an earlier age and then later moving to prep schools where the competition remains year around for players.
With any recent discussion of Canadian hoops though, the talk doesn’t turn to Thompson, a former top-five pick, or Joseph, who was playing in the decisive game of The Finals two nights ago. It doesn’t turn to Bennett either, but rather his former AAU teammate Andrew Wiggins, who would likely be the No. 1 pick this year if he were eligible.
Is Wiggins as good as everyone is saying, he was asked.
“Yeah, he’s better than that,” Bennett said laughing and shaking his head. “It’s just crazy. He’s super talented, super athletic. He’s just a real humble guy.”