Breaking Down How Anthony Bennett's Shoulder Injury Impacts 2013 NBA Draft Stock

Jonathan WassermanFeatured Columnist IVApril 4, 2017

LAS VEGAS, NV - JANUARY 12: Anthony Bennett #15 of the UNLV Rebels stays on the ground after getting a foul called on him during the game against the Air Force Falcons at the Thomas & Mack Center on January 12, 2013 in Las Vegas, Nevada. The Rebels won 76-71.  (Photo by Jeff Bottari/Getty Images)
Jeff Bottari/Getty Images

Anthony Bennett's agent has revealed that his client, a projected top-10 pick in the upcoming 2013 NBA draft, will undergo surgery on his left shoulder and miss up to four months of basketball activity.

Bennett had injured his shoulder late in the season, which ultimately limited his playing time and production during a short stretch.

Of course, the real concern right now is how this injury will impact Bennett's draft stock with team workouts and the NBA combine right around the corner.

Bennett will join Nerlens Noel and Alex Len as upper-tier prospects who will be forced to miss pre-draft festivities due to an injury.

And like Noel and Len, Bennett's injury is unlikely to impact his draft stock—at least not to the point where he's waiting awkwardly in the green room.

The field is just too thin. Teams can't afford to start weeding out top prospects because they're unable to evaluate them in a workout setting.

Bennett also happens finds himself in a favorable position thanks to his specific game and NBA upside. You won't find too many wings, power forwards or combo forwards in this pool. Many of the teams drafting in the top 10, including the Charlotte Bobcats, Cleveland Cavaliers, Phoenix Suns, Detroit Pistons, New Orleans Pelicans, Washington Wizards and Sacramento Kings could all use an athletic, inside-outside forward like Bennett.

As for his upside, Bennett offers one of the highest ceilings of any prospect in the class. He's got the strength, length and explosiveness to overpower down low, along with the speed and agility to play on the perimeter. Bennett also has the potential to be a star if he's able to exploit the mismatch his game and physical tools present.

The injury does probably kill the chances of Bennett earning No. 1 overall consideration. Though unlikely to begin with, the door was open without any can't-miss prospects available to keep it shut.

It also hurts him as a direct competitor to Otto Porter, another top-10 prospect and versatile wing. Teams in the market for a forward will likely be choosing between Porter and Bennett. Those looking to play it safe are now likely to feel more inclined to go with the Georgetown product, who's gradually improved and offers minimal risk as a draft pick.

If Bennett does indeed miss four months, he can also kiss Summer League goodbye. Coaches would obviously prefer their draft picks participate and work out with the team during the offseason, though I don't think it will play a role in the selection process. Bennett is considered one of the more NBA-ready prospects in the field, so he shouldn't fall too far behind if he's forced to miss out on some training camp.

At the end of the day, scouts pretty much know what they have with Anthony Bennett. The shoulder injury isn't something that will affect him long-term, and without many enticing alternative options to choose from, NBA-draft beggers can't be choosers.


Best-Case, Worst-Case

Bennett should still be in play for teams drafting in that No. 3 to No. 8 range. If the current lottery odds stand, the Cavs are likely to be a potential landing destination as a best-case scenario. Worst-case, he slips to the Wizards later in the lotto, but chances are Washington never gets that chance.

He averaged 16 points and eight boards on 53 percent shooting as a freshman at UNLV. With the ability to play high above the rim and get fans standing out of their seats, Bennett should be a draw for whatever city he lands in.

His game is eerily similar to former Runnin' Rebel Larry Johnson's. But if it never reaches L.J. status, this shoulder injury won't be to blame.

Don't expect Bennett to last very long in the green room. There's just too much potential reward here in a draft with so few prizes. A short-term injury shouldn't cloud anyone's judgment on Bennett's long-term future.