Thoughts on UNC-UNLV
- The big story was obviously McAdoo vs Bennett, two potential lottery picks. Bennett had more rebounds and points than McAdoo, but McAdoo and North Carolina got the win. Bennett finished with 15 points (6-16) and 13 rebounds while McAdoo had 13 points (5-13) and 9 board.
- Neither player scored efficiently and the same thing can be blamed for each player - neither has a post game. For McAdoo it is because he struggles with physical defense, settles for fadeaways even with established position, and rushes a lot of shots. But it all comes down to his lack of strength. He can't maintain his post position which gets him off balanced - resulting in quick shots and turnovers.
For Bennett, it is more about preference. He prefers to be a jump shooter. Nobody is pushing Bennett around when he sets his mind to being tough. But he doesn't fight inside for post position. He is more than happy to give up inside and play outside when someone decides to get physical. Because of this though, Bennett's post game is non-existent. He's been floating outside since his high school days and his post game remains underdeveloped. He lacks any moves with his back to the basket. He lacks a way to get easy baskets using his size.
- Defensively, I was impressed with James Michael McAdoo. He took on the challenge of guarding Bennett and slowed him down - especially early. Bennett struggled with UNC's length inside. On the outside, McAdoo did a great job defending set screen plays that were designed to get Bennett good looks. McAdoo moves his feet very well and is an excellent help defender in space.
Bennett on the other hand, was matched up with the offensively challenged Desmond Hubert whenever possible. Its a good thing too because McAdoo could have been more of a factor in pick and rolls with Bennett on him. Instead, McAdoo saw a lot of Quintrell Thomas - a perfect kryptonite. Thomas is an ultra-physical undersized power forward. He kept McAdoo from getting comfortable much of the night. Most of McAdoo's field goals ended up coming after Bennett or Mike Moser got switched on him. Moser struggled defensively as well and fouled out in 12 minutes because of it.
- McAdoo has obviously not adapted well to being "the guy" on UNC. When he wasn't the focus of the offense last year, he played his role very well. This year, Brice Johnson has taken over that role and has done an excellent job. He is very immature physical, but plays the game without fear inside. His offensive game is much like McAdoo's - he does his best work using his athleticism for putbacks or quick moves and has a nice short turnaround jumper in the post. He has been very efficient as defenses have keyed in on McAdoo. If the tables were turned, you can bet McAdoo's numbers would look a lot better. Its a much tougher game when you are expected to be a post threat.
- Bennett did get his highlight plays in. He had two thunderous dunks and had another full court drive that resulted in him crossing up McAdoo to get to the rim. There is no doubt that he can do things few other guys his size can and Dave Rice allows him to take advantage of it by allowing him to bring the ball up the court of rebounds. UNLV runs a perfect offense for him. Moser took advantage of the same freedoms last year. Getting down to it though, Bennett can't live off transition opportunities and jumpshots in the NBA with his atrocious defense. His defense will never be good, but his post game has room to develop. If not, he'll just be another Brandon Bass.
- In comparing the two lottery prospects, I think James Michael McAdoo has the most to work with. He is taller, is a lot better defender, moves his feet very well, is quicker and more explosive at the rim, and understands the game of basketball better. Bennett is more of the physical specimen which gives him the edge in college. Bennett is also the better jump shooter and more dynamic with the ball. But he is a terrible defender and has little room to grow in that area. He also lacks the same kind of feel McAdoo has - another thing that is tough to learn. McAdoo on the otherhand is being held back mainly by his lack of strength. That is something that can be fixed. Its not like McAdoo has the frame of John Henson or Brice Johnson. The other big advantage Bennett has on McAdoo is the shooting. Again, another thing that can be vastly improved upon. No, McAdoo won't ever be a better shooter than Bennett, but he can turn into a reliable one.
Things change and it is early, but Bennett does have a higher floor than McAdoo. McAdoo could be a flat out bust. Bennett at least has a floor of a Brandon Bass type. But his ceiling seems overrated. McAdoo's may be too, but I want to give him the rest of ACC play to see how he adjusts. Its too soon to get down on McAdoo just as it was too soon to anoint him a top 5 pick last season.