Positions on the draft board might not matter to individuals with high picks- just ask Brandon Ingram- but it does matter to those flirting with the lower tier. Earning a spot in the first round means guaranteed money of some thousands of dollars shy of two million for two years.
The money and subsequent guarantees trickle down as the motion of movement heads south which ends up with the bottom feeders feeding on the minimum amount agreed by the NBA which hovers above $500, 000 in the first season. That aside, getting picked high in the annual event by the most coveted teams in the world in most cases translate to a near automatic spot on the roster.
For instance, Boston’s number three pick for this year, Jaylen Brown was signed way earlier than his fellow draftees and is a lock to feature in Boston Celtics games next season. On the other hand, 16th pick Guershon Yabusele and 23rd pick Ante Zizic, will play in China and Croatia for further development. As the hierarchy ticks down, chances to feature in NBA games become more remote.
Just ask Celtics’58th overall pick Abdel Nader, who missed out on a contract hours after the team inked 45th pick Demetrius Jackson to a four year $5.5 million contract. Playing an outstanding role coupled with other variables including age, all contribute to an enhanced position in the draft. However, timing is a key component that cannot be trifled with in a topsy-turvy, hyper competitive environment like the NBA. Which leads me to Boston’s draftee missing from the names listed above; Ben Bentil.
The 21 year old made history by getting drafted 51st overall to become the first ever Ghanaian-born player in the NBA. A complete afterthought in his first season where he averaged six points and four rebounds at Providence College, he spiked his production in his second season to average 21 points and seven rebounds. The abrupt eruption characterized by a sweet shooting form from the three point area, earned Bentil a place in the draft. Despite, projections as an early second round pick-nbadraft.net had him go to Los Angeles Clippers with the 33rd pick- Bentil was picked at 51.In the days after June 23; Bentil has struggled to insert himself in the team as he struggled for playing time in Summer League Games whereas Yabusele and Brown played extensively. Why wouldn’t they? Nobody makes his high picks warm the bench; but the latter picks can and mostly do.
Bentil’s decision to forgo the remaining years in college to go professional was quite quixotic and in a previous post, I passed a verdict for him to stay in school. Barely a month has elapsed and the ramifications of the move are being manifested. As things stand, Bentil is on his way into the Development League with a partially guaranteed deal. Boston has 14 of 15 spots on its roster occupied leaving just one spot for the former Friar, R.J. Hunter, Jordan Mickey and John Holland to contest for. However, another year of sustained production would have elevated Bentil’s position in the draft just like it did for his former Providence teammate Kris Dunn.
Dunn chose to return for another season with Providence in his third year in the aftermath of overcoming two injury riddled seasons. His breakout season led to winning Player of the Year and Defensive Player of the Year honors in the Big East Conference. His final season proved a almost carbon copy of his third year where his numbers (16.4 points, 5.1 rebounds, 5.8 assists and 2.5 steals) were at par with those in his junior year (15.6 points, 5.5, 7.5 assists and 2.7 steals). The identical stat line meant he was again awarded Defensive Player of the Year and Player of the Year in the Conference plus the Bob Cousy Point Guard of the Year Award.
On draft night, Dunn was selected by Minnesota Timberwolves 46 places ahead of Bentil at number five. Unlike Bentil, who can’t be considered an NBA player momentarily, Dunn already has a role to play as the floor general in the wolves second unit behind Ricky Rubio. And should Rubio be moved, as several news outlets are rumoring, Dunn will step in as a starter in the most stocked position in the league. Just as country man Amida Brimah of University of Connecticut has taken over the role as captain and secondary scoring option by staying for another year, Bentil would have been the unquestioned leader of Providence in light of Dunn’s move to the professional ranks. A Robin to Dunn’s Batman during their time together, Bentil would be able to get more touches and more plays would be run through him that can only mean more points, more rebounds and basically more of everything with Dunn gone.
But striking while the iron was hot has proven to be a wrong swing of the block metal on an extended stay in the world’s best league for Bentil.
by Yaw Adjei-Mintah