When you have an inglorious record of being the first ever NBA overall number one pick to play in the Development (D) League and get handed a lifeline deal with a rebuilding team, then your career is on the line. Well that’s pretty much where Anthony Bennett’s career is at now. Much like his position on the court, Bennett’s days in the NBA are in flux. Not big enough to play exclusively as a Power Forward nor skilled enough to be a Small Forward, the 23 year old Canadian is still finding his way in the league.
It all started in glory after Cleveland Cavaliers, after hitting big on gambles in Kyrie Irving and Dion Waiters in the draft, tried the trick on Bennett in the 2013 Draft by making him the first overall pick. Any player stepping on the court for Cleveland after LeBron James bolted for Miami Heat had to get accustomed to enormous pressure of producing from day one.
However, he failed to deliver amid injury woes and health issues before getting tossed in the deal with another Canadian number one pick Andrew Wiggins, to net Kevin Love from Minnesota Timberwolves. Then his name got scratched off the wolves roster, went back home to sign for Toronto Raptors before the infamous D-League game against Delaware 87ers and now the Brooklyn Nets.
Two seasons back, this trade would have seemed impossible considering Brooklyn’s extreme spendthrift antics on the market when they traded enormous assets (draft picks) to land Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce and Jason Terry in a trade. It also allotted a chunk of its payroll to cater for Deron Williams and Joe Johnson’s massive contracts. In the end, New York City’s black and white half could only muster a second round appearance in the playoffs. In the aftermath, General Manager Billie King lost his job, Paul Pierce moved to Washington Wizards, Terry moved to Houston and all that remain from the quickly built super team was 2008 draftee Brook Lopez. Now the Nets, led by former San Antonio Spurs manager Sean Marks and former Atlanta Hawks Assistant Coach Kenny Atkinson are building through a new approach; an approach that screams tons of losses and patience.
Lopez is back to being the foundation piece he was when drafted into the league and the new executives have assembled a new look team decorated by players yet to prove themselves as worthy mainstays in the league. Conversely, inking a slew of additions including Jeremy Lin, Luis Scola, Randy Foye and Greivis Vasquez, Bennett’s signature is the most intriguing pickup and that intrigue can lead to a productive season and extended stay in the NBA or another poor stint and permanent exit. The most glaring area of concern the Bennett camp should be worried about is the crowded front court the Nets possess. Prior to training camp later this month, Brooklyn has as many as Power Forwards on the roster with Lopez and Justin Hamilton at the Center position.
Earlier in June, Tevor Booker moved from Utah Jazz to align forces with Thomas Robinson, Scola and Chris McCollough before Bennett signed. One particular trait the above mentioned names have in common is the tendency to score closer to the basket. None can shoot a three point shot threateningly like Kevin Love does which makes it a mighty headache for Atkinson to fix in camp as starting Center Lopez, plays a similar game. With very little chance of playing more to showcase his abilities, it is very queer Bennett signed up for Brooklyn. Being a consistent threat from distance would have made the Canadian a first choice starter for a coach who knows a lot about that, having seen the Hawks steam roll their way to two consecutive second round playoff appearances.
In 128 games played in the league, Bennett has attempted 90 three point shots and converted 23 of them which was a dip from what he churned out in his lone year at the University of Las Vegas where he converted 36 shots on 96 attempts. The drop off should be expected considering the improved defensive setups in the pros but to have a longer stay in the league and not have the abominable tag of being one of the biggest bust draft picks ever, he really needs to work on his shooting.
For comparison sake, Bennett’s numbers pale in comparison with those of popular bust Kwame Brown. Things don’t get better on the defensive end of the court as Bennett finds himself raked near the bottom of all Power Forwards in the league last season with a pitiful mark of 114.3 per basslinespin.com; he makes the list ahead of Nikola Pekovic, teammate Chris McCollough and Mitch McGary.
The 2013 Draft Class has produced its fair share of quality players including Steven Adams, Victor Oladipo, Giannis Antetokounmpo and C.J.McCollum but will need its figure head leading the fore.
By Yaw Adjei-Mintah