Indeed, it’s possible that, barring substantial and unlikely improvement, we’ve seen the last of Bennett in the NBA. Where did it go wrong? How did Bennett become the answer to the trivia question, “Who is the biggest No. 1 overall bust in NBA history?” “I had Bennett ninth on my board (before the 2013 NBA Draft),” one NBA executive said. “I was shocked the Cavs took him at one. But having said that, I’m even more shocked he’s out of the league. I didn’t think that would ever happen. I said to myself at the time, ‘that’s a bad pick, but he’ll probably be a solid sixth man or fifth starter.’ Not, ‘that’s a bad pick, this dude will be out of the league.’”
It would be great if Bennett could turn this thing around, become a legitimate Euroleague star and get back to the NBA. It’s happened before. But at this stage, it seems that NBA front offices have given up on getting much out of Bennett. And not only will the stigma of the Cavaliers overdrafting him at No. 1 stick, but it’ll also speak volumes to people that he wasn’t able to turn himself into an NBA player, with the biggest lesson being to do your homework on a player’s personality and work ethic. “I had him 10th or 11th (on my board),” one of the above executives said. “It was definitely surprising to most people that he went No. 1, but I talked to a lot of people around the league and felt consensus was fifth to tenth. Typically, that’s still an NBA player. Obviously though, that was wrong.”
The Hawks wanted Osman, a 21-year-old 6-9 wing who is growing into one of the best prospects in Europe. He plays for Anadolu Efes, located in Istanbul, which is 12-2 in the highly-regarded Turkish league. He is the team’s leading scorer, averaging 14.8 points and 3.5 rebounds while shooting .563 from the field, .413 from 3-point range.
Gaines, who worked as a Bulls scout with Jackson in Chicago, was the major player in the Knicks tabbing Langston Galloway two years ago out of the D-League and is credited with pushing Jackson to draft Kristaps Porzingis at No. 4 in 2015. After scouting Porzingis in Spain, Gaines told Jackson and general manager Steve Mills he should be taken No. 1 overall. According to the source, Gaines believes Ndour can turn into a defensive stopper at the small forward position and wants to develop him. Ndour hasn’t been in the rotation, but has played seven games with Westchester and the club remains committed.
While the aforementioned NBA officials differed slightly on who those No. 1 candidates are, they rated two players slightly above the rest of the No. 1 contenders: point guards Markelle Fultz of Washington and Lonzo Ball of UCLA. “There’s nothing Fultz can’t do if he want to,’’ a veteran scout said of Fultz, while a scouting director added, “His defense is shaky but he’s still the most complete player in the draft.’’ As for Ball, a front office executive “He has everything – except strength. He needs to get stronger and I’m sure he will.’’ And, another veteran personnel director said, “He’s the best passer in the draft; his court vision is special.’’
According to several veteran scouts and player personnel directors, this year’s draft is unique: While it doesn’t have a certifiable franchise-changer, it does have a spate of top-fight players. “There’s a lot of talent in this draft, a lot,’’ a longtime Eastern Conference official said. “There just isn’t one, clear-cut guy in this draft; anybody who tells you that is full of it. I think there could be six guys who could go No. 1 at this point and maybe more as the season goes on.’’