Can Ben Bentil crack the Celtics' 15-man roster?


Can Ben Bentil crack the Celtics' 15-man roster?

Every weekday until Sept. 7, we'll take a look at each player at the Celtics roster: Their strengths and their weaknesses, their ceiling and their floor. We continue today with Ben Bentil.

BOSTON – Providence College was one of the better teams in the Big East a year ago and a lot of the credit was doled out to point guard Kris Dunn who was selected with the fifth overall pick in last June’s NBA draft.

But often overlooked in their success was the play of Ben Bentil, the Big East’s top scorer at 21.1 points per game in addition to hauling down 7.7 boards which factored in Boston selecting the 6-foot-8 forward in the second round of last June’s NBA draft.

RELATED: Click here for more Ceiling-to-Floor profiles.

In many ways, he finds himself in a familiar predicament to what he experienced when he arrived on the Friars’ campus as a lightly regarded prospect originally from Ghana.

Bentil proved himself a quick learner, a skill that he hopes will bode well in his quest to earn a roster spot with the Boston Celtics which will be difficult to achieve due to the high number of players with fully guaranteed contracts – and him not being one of them . . . yet.

The Ceiling for Bentil: Active roster

Like most second round picks, making the 15-man roster will be an accomplishment in itself. But if he can somehow translate the talent he showed in college to the NBA game, Bentil could position himself to leap frog a player or two and not just make the team but carve out a spot on the team’s active roster.

At 6-foot-8 with a solid 229-pound frame, Bentil has ideal size to play power forward in “small ball” lineups which is something the Celtics used in measured doses last season with a decent amount of success. Bentil showed glimpses of being able to shoot 3s in college and further enhanced his potential from long range by connecting on 14-of-25 3s at the pre-draft scouting combine in Chicago last May.

But in order to impress the Celtics and head coach Brad Stevens, it’ll be Bentil’s defense that will give him the best shot at sticking.

While in college, the Friars did a decent amount of switching defensively which matched Bentil up at times against smaller, quicker players. In his final season at Providence College, Bentil had a defensive rating (points allowed per 100 possessions) of 99.8.

That provides promise that Bentil can do a decent job defensively when opponents go with pick-and-roll sets and he finds himself having to defend a speedy guard.


The Floor for Bentil: D-League or overseas

Bentil has a partially guaranteed contract worth about $250,000 for this season, so he will literally get something of significance from training camp regardless of how things play out. Boston would love to keep him around and watch his game develop, but that may not be possible with the numbers they have on the roster currently.

Bentil doesn’t handle the ball well enough to see any real action at small forward, but his size, strength and scoring ability makes him a legit talent who can play power forward and potentially some center depending on who is on the floor for the opponent. But his versatility may not be enough to counter the experience and depth Boston has this season.

He will come into training camp essentially fighting for the 15th and final roster spot, along with R.J. Hunter, James Young and Marcus George-Hunt.

The odds are heavily stacked against Bentil sticking with the Celtics.

But a year ago this time, he was a long shot to see significant action only to help lead the Friars to the NCAA Tournament, lead the Big East in scoring and be named an honorable mention All-American.

“It’s been an unbelievable journey,” Bentil told CSNNE.com earlier.

NBC Sports Boston Breakfast Pod: Reserve-heavy Celtics keep at it, top Trail Blazers

NBC Sports Boston Photo

NBC Sports Boston Breakfast Pod: Reserve-heavy Celtics keep at it, top Trail Blazers

1:13 - The Celtics came away with a 105-100 win in Portland on Friday night. Find out why Chris Mannix is calling this the best Celtics win of the season.

6:05 - Mannix discusses details about Kyrie Irving’s ‘minimally invasive’ procedure on his knee and what his level of concern is with A. Sherrod Blakely and Gary Tanguay.

10:03 - Michael Holley and Tom Curran discuss what NFL players, including Devin McCourty, are doing beyond the gridiron by being active in criminal justice reform discussions held at Harvard this week.



Morris getting it done for Celtics on both ends of the floor

Morris getting it done for Celtics on both ends of the floor

When you think about Marcus Morris these days, big-time scoring immediately comes to mind. 

But in Boston’s 105-100 comeback win over Portland, Morris’ contributions went beyond the game-high 30 points he dropped on the Blazers.

MORE - Blakely's stars, studs, and duds from Celtics-Trail Blazers

“Coach (Brad Stevens) is doing a great job of getting me the ball in my spots and my teammates are finding me,” Morris told reporters after the win. “And I’m just coming through.”

He’s providing strong play and a tremendous presence at both ends of the floor which has been critical to the team navigating some choppy waters with a number of regular rotation players – namely Kyrie Irving – out with injuries.

“One thing is, he’s healthy,” said Boston’s Al Horford, referring to the sore knee that limited Morris earlier this season and at times forced him to miss games. “And the other is, he’s just more confident, he’s playing very assertive. He’s playing great right now, in a really good rhythm.”

Said Stevens: “That’s been him (Morris). As he’s continued to feel better; I think physically he’s felt as good as he’s felt. He’s comfortable in our system and we need him to score. If you’re a basketball player and your job is to score, that’s a pretty good job.”

And it’s one that even with all the injuries Boston has played through, few envisioned him being such an integral part of the offense. 

Morris’ calling card prior to arriving in Boston was his defense. 

But Morris has made it known that his focus on the floor is to be as complete a player as possible.

“I’m not trying to just limit myself to just being that scorer,” Morris said. “Also, on the defensive end I think I’m bringing it; my defense has gotten a lot better, especially my on-the-ball defense. I’m trying to be that all-around player and not just an offensive player … but I can score.”