Mel Turpin with asthma.

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NBA draft experts, you’ve been played.
NBA GMs… not so much.

When Chris Grant took UNLV’s Anthony Bennett #1 last night, the goal of a month of misdirection was partially realized. Partially because he got his guy; not entirely because he was unable to execute a trade-back to do so.

It wasn’t for lack of trying.  But with a record like Grant’s, even sports journos start to get wary (see Katz’ tweet at right).  And of course no GMs want to get the executive equivalent of posterization like Mitch Kupchak did last year.  (The 19 starts by Ramon Sessions cost him Sergey Karasev.)

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Everyone’s smartening up to Grant rumors.

The narrative of “Mel Turpin with asthma” worked to some extent.  Jacob Rosen’s mock draft muncher showed zero out of 40 mocks with Bennett #1.

So, good job, good effort, Mr. Grant.

Unfortunately your well-earned reputation preceded you.

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I don’t know enough but that won’t stop me from weighing in…

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Does this count for me being right? Personally, I think it’s sketchy… your call.

Bennett looked like a good basketball player to me in my casual fan watching research.  That is:  not a tall guy who blocks shots, not an athletic freak of nature.  Rather a conventionally tall person who’s good at basketball.  As a parallel, I keep coming back to Charles Barkley and I’ll try to do better.  Barkley was a guy who didn’t impress with his size or conditioning or any other combine measurables.  Just a baller.  (Barkley went 5th overall in the super-stacked 1984 draft; I wonder if he’d have gone #5 in today NBA that looks so much harder at physical measurables.)

I had a little back and forth with @WFNYCraig and @ClevTA on this last week.  See right, that’s as far as it went.

I mean… I pulled that thread, looked into Bennett.  All I found “good player but fat and lazy.”

On his defense:

It’s hard to avoid hyperbole here: Bennett might be the single most unaware defensive prospect I’ve ever seen. There is nothing he does well on this end, and those shortcomings are due entirely to his effort.

Bennett still struggles mightily on the defensive end, due to both a lack of effort and awareness. He reminds me of a less athletic version of Blake Griffin with a consistent jumper.

Bennett has an abysmal defensive reputation and looks like a poor man’s version of the Beasley, Derrick Williams, “Big Dog” … class of players who have historically done really well in my models but not in the NBA. I would have a tough time passing on him after the 10th pick or so, but I really worry about his bust potential in the top 5.

On his weight:

It was mainly one Chad Ford tweet that got the interwebs chattering:

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Not going to link to the blogs this tweet spun up, but it was a lot.

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And then there’s the asthma.

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Click for Bennett’s Vegas asthma interview.

In the dozens of draft previews I read, I didn’t see anything on his asthma.  How does this not get mentioned?  It was pretty public.  Las Vegas reader Petefranklin gave us the heads up on the story (see right).

Is this a problem?  I don’t know.  Reader NFB reminds that “Dennis Rodman has asthma, which only leads me to believe that in thirty or forty years, our prized first draft pick will be liaising with the North Koreans.

Beyond the asthma tip Petefranklin offered some legit fan scouting which is only going to make you feel better:

Awesome player in all aspects of the game especially his range and finishing ability. Finishing might not translate vs NBA players but the range will in combo with the ability to do some D & Driving. … He is a awesome player (prospect) who reminds me of Barkley [HEY!  That’s what I thought too!].  Maybe the biggest factor is that he shined under UNLV coach Rice who is terrible.  Terrible!  25 wins by talent alone, should have been sweet 16 at least once, but gets beat by down and out tournament teams.

Bennett is good!  Needs coaching and conditioning. The asthma was a big deal here 6 or so weeks ago.

See now.  THAT is the kind of review you want to hear from the locals about your new shiny toy.

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In Grant we trust.

Chris Grant wandered off the reservation with his Tristan Thompson and Dion Waiters picks.  Some gnashing of teeth ensued after the fact but as of now, both look to be good picks.  Can’t say yet if they were THE pick, but both players continue to show upside potential while continuing also to be 22 and 21 years old.  Speaking of, look at how young this core is:

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Now that’s a youth movement.  That’s how to re-tool.

The Cavs still sit on a pile of cash ($22M in cap room) and free-agency starts next week.  Historically, Cleveland has had a hard time getting the attention of free agents.  But then again -and as we’ve said before- no player would choose to be Antawn Jamison on the 2011 Cavs.

Might a top FA want to get in the action going on here?

He’d have to be serious about winning… not just paying it lip service.  You know I’m big on getting a big.  (I still see AV as a power forward, not a true center, can’t shake it.)  Here’s the list of UFA Centers:

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No one expects Dwight Howard to come here and that’s fine.  Who the hell knows what Andrew Bynum thinks… but he is just 25.  I still like Al Jefferson.  But net net:  Grant has us in position to be players for one of these guys.  That’s pretty exciting.

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Can’t please everyone though.

To close it up, I did have a chuckle at the poll on ESPNCleveland this morning.  You really can’t please everyone.

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ESPNCleveland poll this morning.

But in Cleveland you’re smashing it if you’re pleasing 53%.  So I say again:  well done, Mr. Grant.

  • Petefranklin

    Here’s a good one.

    http://www.reviewjournal.com/sports/unlv-rebels/basketball/bennett-draws-comparisons-another-ex-rebel-larry-johnson

    Matt Youmans is pretty realistic as is Ed Graney(the other writer who covers the Rebs). As for his defense, I never noticed much about it being horrible, just some shaky team play from the Rebs. Maybe there was some kind of agreement during the recruiting process that Bennent would be allowed to showcase his offensive skill and defer the effort on defense to his teammates. Kentucky recruited him heavily so maybe Calipari wanted effort on defense that Bennent didn’t think would help him end up the #1 pick. Everyone here knew that he was one and done with the probable chance of being top 5. If my memory serves me correctly, his first half vs UTEP was awesome and worth a look if you can find it. Defense is coachable, skills are not, and I guarantee that Bennent is not a me first guy as he passed to the open man often last year. When you guys watch film remember that UNLV didn’t have a point guard last year, just a converted shooting guard who was often late to pass when Bennent made his pre pass moves.

    • Anonymous

      There sure doesn’t seem to be any physical reason he can’t play great defense. I watch a couple UNLV replays just to see what this guy is about. He did act a little nonchalant on closeouts and not too alert around the hoop, but it’s hard to take much from that when the whole team just seems to act like the defensive end is just something they have to suffer through to get back to what they really do.

      The guy seems to really enjoy playing, and with Brown he won’t play unless he pays attention on d. So I think he will.

  • i trust ClevTA and when this tweet went through the TL last night, i took notice.

  • I don’t follow college hoops at all so I know zero about Bennett or any of the other guys in the draft, but I can speak to the asthma a little, as a lifelong sufferer. And while I’m no world-class athlete, I’m reasonably active and played soccer at a decently high level for 20 years and the asthma never stopped me at all. Every case is different I know, but you learn to manage it and for the most part that just means if you know you’re going to be playing in conditions that will trigger an attack — for me, that meant in cold weather, which isn’t a problem for basketball — you just take an extra hit of albuterol beforehand. Heck even caffeine will do the trick in a pinch. So unless this guy has a really, really severe case of asthma, which seems unlikely given how well he plays basketball, it’s absolutely not anything to worry about.

    Now hoping the Cavs keep Ellington and Livingston and sign Pekovic in free agency.

    • Good to know. In the interview, Bennett was fairly nonchalant about it; no big deal

      BTW, I would have listed Pekovic in that graphic but he’s an RFA. Somehow, those guys never get signed away from their existing club. At least not if they’re really good..

      • That’s true but I think the Cavs can offer a contract that the Wolves can’t match without having to pay the tax.

        • yes.. if the cavs did something heavily front-loaded the wolves might be in a box. i really don’t know enough on NBA cap shenanigans to say whether Cavs are allowed to do a deal like that. (but i’m all for a pekovic signing.)

    • looking closer at minny and RFA pekovic.. minny sits at 52.7 against a 58.5 cap. hard to think they wouldnt be able to find 10M to re-sign him (no idea if that’s enough).

    • NeedsFoodBadly

      Yes to Pekovic! Would love to see him in the wine and gold. As it is, the Timberwolves might be my favorite team right now that I don’t have any personal connection to.

      On the asthma front, a very cursory (so take with a grain of salt) web search indicates that Isaiah Thomas, Dominique Wilkins, Paul Pierce and Michael Beasley all have asthma. Some of those guys are alright basketball players, too.

      • NeedsFoodBadly

        And Tyson Chandler, too.

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