If Ben Bentil was two inches taller, I’m fairly certain he could declare for the NBA draft right now and he’d be picked somewhere in the second round.
That’s the case because Bentil is developing into the sort of multi-dimensional scorer the league is looking for in its centers these days.
He is not a particularly good jump-shooter yet, converting just 26.6% of his 64 attempts from three-point range and 38.5% of his 96 mid-range shots this season – according to hoop-math. His 81.6% foul shooting suggests he could develop into a more capable outside shooter in time, but that time is not now.
Nevertheless, Bentil has proven himself enough of a threat from the perimeter that he must be accounted for stepping outside, not just spotting up on the weak-side but also catch-and-shooting out of the pick-and-pop. He has then offered Kris Dunn plenty of space to attack the lane off the bounce.
Most of his production originates in the interior, though. Bentil has lower-body strength in his 230-pound frame to get a deep seal, fluid (if not necessarily fully polished) footwork with his back to the basket and pretty good touch on turnaround hooks over this left shoulder and on face-up jumpers from the baseline. Opponents don’t have the option of switching a smaller player onto him.
He has not proven able to play above the rim as a constant target for lobs but has shown nice touch on non-dunk finishes around length, converting 65% of his 123 shots at the rim this season.
Bentil has an appealing offensive skill-set for a center but he is also six-foot-eight, which is why it’s tough to project him as an NBA prospect right now. His physical profile is similar to Paul Millsap’s but he is not the sort of dominant rebounder Millsap was when he first got his foot on the door.
Bentil is collecting just 13.5% of available misses, including just 16.8% of opponents’ misses – per basketball-reference, which is disappointing when you consider he is the only true big on Providence’s rotation.
Part of this is that Dunn is a great rebounder for a point guard and profits of Bentil doing the dirty work boxing out opponents, but he has nonetheless not shown he can be a dominant rebounder so far. Providence has played three NBA-caliber frontlines this season and Bentil was so-so in these matchups. He did well against Michigan State, OK against Marquette and poorly against Arizona.
Bentil has enough athletic ability to rotate off the weak-side and pick up some blocks coming from behind but he has not shown to be the sort of rim protector an NBA team would feel comfortable relying on to anchor its defense for consistent stretches. Providence has not asked of him to pick up smaller players on switches, so I can’t tell if he could potentially be an asset in that role.
Bentil simply lacks enough size or superior athleticism to project as even a zero defender at best as a center in the NBA. So, he will have to move down a position and play “power-forward” (whatever that means these days) but he doesn’t yet possess a polished enough perimeter-oriented skill-set to play that position in the new four-out Era.
Bentil isn’t a good enough shooter to space the floor consistently, doesn’t have much of a floor game to take more athletic players off the bounce and hasn’t shown many passing instincts facilitating offense from the elbows or making plays for others out of the short roll.
He is, however, someone worth keeping track of over the next couple of seasons.
Editor’s Note: Rafael Uehara is the managing editor of ‘Basketball Scouting’. More of his work can be found here or at Upside & Motor, where he is a regular contributor. He can be followed on twitter as @rafael_uehara