In the midst of the internet malfunctioning on Friday afternoon, Boston Globe’s Gary Washburn reported that the Celtics released Ben Bentil, their 54th overall pick in the 2016 NBA Draft. The Celtics became the second team to cut a player they drafted this past June, as the Jazz released Marcus Paige on October 13th. However, what separates Bentil from Marcus Paige or any other prospect that was cut during training camp is that he’s not likely headed to the NBA D-League
Ben Bentil has been waived and will look for another team. Will not join NBADL Maine. #Celtics— gary washburn (@GwashburnGlobe) October 21, 2016
Washburn’s report comes as a surprise as its become a norm for most younger prospects to head to that team’s D-League affiliate after they were released. That’s especially evident with plays like Bentil, that’s been within the Celtics system since June’s draft. Over those last four months, Bentil has been a part of Boston’s organization through summer league, training camp, preseason or any off-court activity that the team would have.
Bentil’s decision to become a free agent over going to D-League raises two major questions:
- Is Ben Bentil currently talented enough to stick on an NBA roster?
- Will another NBA team pick him up before opening day rosters have to be set on Monday?
That first question is very difficult to answer because we don’t have a big sample size of Benti during his post-Providence career. During Salt Lake City summer league, Bentil averaged 8.7 points and 4.3 rebounds on 53% from the field and 29% from the perimeter on 2.3 attempts per game. A brief look of that summer league performance is seen in the clip below:
Transition over the preseason was where Bentil really struggled, and possibly forced the Celtics to waive him. In the three preseason games that he participated in, Bentil averaged 5 points and 4.3 rebounds per game on an abysmal 36% from the field. Of, that’s a very small sample size considering that he only played in three games where he averaged 12.9 minutes per game.
To have an opportunity to really break down Bentil’s overall game, you have to go back to his work at Providence. Playing alongside current Timberwolves guard Kris Dunn, Bentil shined during the 2015-16 season by averaging 21 points and 7.6 rebounds per game on 46% from the field and 33% from beyond the arc. Alongside breaking those impressive stats, we took a deep look at Bentil’s diverse offensive game in a piece back in mid-May:
Bentil was able to utilize those skills throughout the entire 2015-16 season, which led to him being one of the best scoring bigs in the country by averaging 21 points per game on a 56% True Shooting Percentage. Those averages actually puts Bentil as the 4th best scorer in this year's draft class, while also being more efficient than projected lottery picks Henry Ellenson and Brandon Ingram. That ability to still be efficient while having a major role in Providence's offense is an extremely impressive sign for a player with no prior experience in that kind of position.
Although Bentil hasn't established a real go-to move, he was able to be so productive through his diverse offensive skill-set. As an NBA prospect, the most appealing part of Bentil's offensive repertoire is his ability to spread the floor as a mid-range or perimeter shooter. While his 33% 3P% isn't too impressive, he did show a lot of development in that area as the season went on. In February and March, Bentil shot a solid 37% from beyond the arc. That boosted efficiency was due to Bentil becoming more comfortable with his increased role inside Providence's offense. As that comfort level increased, he was able to fully display his diverse skill-set.
As might be apparent in that snippet, Bentil stands as a player with a pretty diverse offensive skill-set. However, I also mentioned that he was a player that lacked experience or a defined go-to move on the offensive end. Those two factors would usually be a good reason for a prospects to head down to the D-League to get more experience. But alas, Bentil currently as an NBA free agent on October 21st looking for an NBA team to put him in their opening day rotation.
At this point, most NBA teams are more likely to cut than add players, as each squad needs to trim roster down to a maximum of 15 players before opening night on Tuesday. That ultimately leave Bentil in an interesting predicament as it might be tough for the team to add him to their roster.
However, one team that could potentially add Bentil are the Chicago Bulls. On Friday afternoon, the Bulls announced that they waived guard Spencer Dinwiddie to trim their roster down to 14 players. That gives the Bulls an open roster spot that they can utilize to add Bentil or any other free agent.
Could Bentil fit within the current Bulls rotation? Possibly. At this point, the Bulls’ front-court is in a weird situation as they don’t have a low-post scorer and there’s a lack of experience when you look away from Robin Lopez. Although Bentil enters the NBA as a raw player, he could be a good addition to the team due to his versatile offensive skill-set. Whether it would be as a roll man in pick-and-rolls, post-up threat or mid-range shooter, Bentil could be a solid 2nd unit player that can score in a multitude of different ways.
Whether he goes to the D-League, signs with another NBA team or even head overseas, Ben Bentil stands as a player to keep an eye on for the foreseeable future. For a young 6’9 forward, Bentil impresses with his versatile offensive game and strong 235 pound frame. With some refinement and added experience, Bentil has the potential to develop into a very solid NBA forward.