76ers

NBA draft profile: Providence F Ben Bentil

NBA draft profile: Providence F Ben Bentil

Ben Bentil

Position: Forward

Height: 6-8

Weight: 230

School: Providence

After an underwhelming freshman year, Bentil exploded during his sophomore season at Providence, attracting NBA attention and ultimately convincing himself to declare for the draft. Though he was overshadowed by Friars point guard and surefire top-10 pick Kris Dunn, Bentil averaged 21.4 points (17th in the nation) and 7.7 rebounds.

Born in Ghana, Bentil moved to the United States when he was 15 to pursue a quality education, not for basketball-related reasons. He actually spent his first year away from home just outside of Philadelphia, attending the Haverford School, before moving to St. Andrew’s School in Middletown, Delaware.

Strengths
Bentil has a knack for putting the ball in the hole. At Providence, he created plenty of matchup problems for opposing defenses, overpowering guards in the post and draining jumpers against big men wary of his ability to drive by them. He also knows how to draw contact, as he averaged about seven free throws attempts. He shot an impressive 78.2 percent from the charity stripe.

While the long-range shot is not Bentil’s forte, he wasn't afraid to shoot the three, going 52 for 158 (32.9 percent) on the year. Given he didn’t start playing basketball until he was a teenager, Bentil’s jumper is one of a number of areas where he may have the potential to improve.

Weaknesses
To put it politely, Bentil didn’t like to pass the ball. He averaged a measly 1.1 assists last season despite often drawing double teams on the wing or upon receiving the ball in the post.

When Bentil wasn’t doubled, he sometimes failed to score efficiently against overmatched defenders, shooting 46.2 percent on the season. Several times each game, Bentil would launch contested, cringe-worthy jumpers that you wouldn’t even want the Warriors' vaunted Splash Brothers taking. You could chalk that up to the reliance on Bentil to score, but his shot selection is still a serious concern.

On the defensive side of the ball, Bentil didn’t appear NBA-ready. He doesn’t have great lateral quickness and will need to put significant muscle on his 230-pound frame if he hopes to cope in the post with NBA big men.

How he’d fit with the Sixers
He'd be a scorer off the bench, a role the Sixers definitely aren’t prioritizing at the moment. With the Sixers’ needs across the board, it doesn’t make much sense for the Sixers to use one of their late first-round picks on a player with obvious weaknesses such as Bentil, who doesn’t seem suited for a starting spot in the NBA.

NBA comparison
Think T.J. Warren of the Suns or Patrick Patterson of the Raptors. A 6-foot-8 dominant college scorer who will contribute in the NBA by scoring on the mediocre defense of threes and fours on opposing second-units.

Draft projection
While the Suns or Warriors could take a chance on Bentil late in the first round, I see Phoenix eventually grabbing him in the second round at No. 34.

Elton Brand and Brett Brown answer questions about Markelle Fultz's shoulder, but many still remain

Elton Brand and Brett Brown answer questions about Markelle Fultz's shoulder, but many still remain

CAMDEN, N.J — Markelle Fultz will see a shoulder specialist for a consultation on Monday in New York, as recommended by his agent Raymond Brothers, Sixers general manager Elton Brand confirmed Tuesday. He won’t participate in team practices or games until that consultation.

That much we know. 

The rest of Fultz’s situation is murkier.

Brand and head coach Brett Brown responded to the many questions about Fultz, but many still remain. Neither knew why Fultz went from saying “everything feels good” on Nov. 6 to seeking outside consultation.

“I’m not sure,” Brand said. “Whatever it is, we’ll support him. We just want the best for him, and we’ll figure out a way to get that out of him.”

It’s possible the normal “bumps and bruises” Brown and Fultz said the 2017 No. 1 pick was dealing with two weeks ago may not have been as innocuous as they sounded then. 

Brand said there had been specific conversations about Fultz’s shoulder, as well as other ailments that he classified as minor — not the kind of things that would keep someone “medically off the court.”

“Yeah, I’m sure there [were conversations]," Brand said. "Other things, too. Other things that players who are playing more than 20 minutes a game complain about or get treatment for.”

However, Brand said this isn't the first time Fultz will see an outside specialist.

“In the last year, yes, he’s seen specialists per Raymond’s recommendation," he said. "I don’t know how much we can talk about, but yes, he’s seen specialists.”

Brown was surprised by the news. He thought the scapular imbalance which sidelined Fultz for 68 games as a rookie was 100 percent healed. 

“It was my understanding that it was pointing in the right direction, that it was good,” Brown said. “I was playing him, he’s lifting weights, it’s all good. So, this situation has come up, and we’ll deal with it.

“This news about his shoulder, it did catch me off guard. But if it’s that real that he needs to go seek further consultation, then we support him. In my eyes, it’s not complicated. That’s what it is, and we’ll support him.” 

The motivation for Brothers seeking a consultation for Fultz remains unclear. Both Brand and Brown said they didn’t want to speculate that there might be a correlation with T.J. McConnell taking Fultz's backup point guard minutes in the Sixers’ win over the Suns on Monday night (see story).

Brand did say he spoke “a little about on-court stuff” with Brothers but that he wanted to focus on Fultz’s medical situation. 

The one obvious answer is who replaces Fultz while he’s out. There’s no question it’s McConnell. Brand wouldn’t entertain the possibility of external options until the Sixers know more.

“We’ll see after the agent-recommended consultation,” Brand said. "We’ll see how it goes. We’ll see how he feels and what’s going on. I’m sure T.J. is going to play a lot more minutes. I’m really glad we have a player like T.J. in the fold to be able to step up like I’m sure he will.”

To add another twist to an already bizarre story, The Philadelphia Inquirer’s Keith Pompey reported that Fultz “participated in light shooting with teammates” on Tuesday, though the team did not hold a formal practice. 

The last Fultz-related question Brown answered was about whether he sometimes wishes he could just walk into work and have a normal day.

“Our definition of normal in this building and with our program is probably different than most,” he said. “I’m personally fine with it. You just roll. You have to absorb things and move. ... I think that we’re pretty steady and consistent around here. I hope we are. 

"I’m the head coach, so I hope that is generated, as much as anybody, by me. And we’ll deal with this thing with Markelle accordingly.” 

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Sixers' Markelle Fultz to miss time, see shoulder specialist

Sixers' Markelle Fultz to miss time, see shoulder specialist

Updated: 2:07 p.m.

The Markelle Fultz shoulder saga just took a strange and troubling turn.

At his agent's recommendation, the 2017 No. 1 overall pick is scheduled to see a shoulder specialist Monday in New York and will not participate in practices or games until the evaluation is completed, Sixers general manager Elton Brand confirmed Tuesday.

The news was first reported by The Athletic's David Aldridge.

This is not good.

Drama surrounding Fultz's right shoulder gained serious steam Nov. 12 when the 20-year-old guard had a bizarre hitch in a free throw attempt during the Sixers' 124-114 win over the Heat. Fultz, who put up a concerning jumper a week prior against the Nets, said the ball slipped out of his hand on the inadvertent pump-fake foul shot.

Fultz's routine at the charity stripe then changed last week as he started juggling the ball between his hands, all the way up into his release, starting Friday vs. the Jazz.

Now, at the direction of his agent Raymond Brothers, Fultz will have to miss time as he seeks clarity on his shooting shoulder.

On Nov. 6, Fultz said “everything feels good.”

"For sure," Fultz said. "Nobody’s ever 100 percent healthy in this game. You play five games in seven days, you get bumps and bruises. That’s life in the NBA, that’s what you sign up for when you get here. But I’m working every day to get better.”

The Sixers play Wednesday (vs. Pelicans), Friday (vs. Cavaliers) and Sunday (at Nets), then have two days off before a home game next Wednesday against the Knicks.

Fultz played just 14 games his rookie season, which was marred by injuries and the mysterious shoulder issue. Before the 2017-18 campaign, he suffered a left ankle injury and dealt with soreness in his right knee. Then came the scapular muscle imbalance in his right shoulder during October 2017, forcing him to miss 68 games.

After some early positives with his shooting stroke this season, Fultz has attempted just one three-pointer (which was nearly a full-court heave) over his last 11 games and free throws have become a hurdle of sorts.

Another hurdle Fultz and the Sixers are trying to clear.

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