The Cleveland Cavaliers shocked quite a few fans and analysts by selecting forward Anthony Bennett with the first overall pick in the 2013 NBA Draft. There were many that expected the Cavaliers to select Nerlens Noel, but the Cavaliers decided to take a shot at the former UNLV standout. Unfortunately for both Bennett and the Cavaliers, his NBA career got off to a very shaky start and many were already labeling him as a bust.
That being said, Bennett has been picking up his level of play over the last month and is showing sings of breaking away from that “bust” label. Bennett has a very unique skill set that has made his transition into the NBA much more difficult, especially with his outside shot. Adjusting to the extra distance of the 3-point line has stumped many rookies and Bennett appears to have run into that same difficulty.
Through 48 games with the Cleveland Cavaliers this season, Bennett has averaged 4.0 points and 3.1 rebounds per game. Those numbers certainly don’t help his case for removing the “bust” label, but he has played much better this past month as previously mentioned. In the month of February, Bennett upped his averages to 7.2 points and 4.8 rebounds per game and even recorded two double-doubles. Obviously those numbers are expected from him, but it’s a very good sign that he is finally beginning to figure out how to succeed at the NBA level.
Cleveland Cavaliers fans have to exercise extreme patience with a player like Anthony Bennett. Why? Quite frankly he has to completely change his game around to fit in at the NBA level. He was a very dominant force in college, but it was because he was stronger and quicker than most opponents at his position. Unfortunately for most young players, that does not transfer into the big leagues. Bennett will need to work on his strength and moves to get to the point where he can compete with the talented forwards in the NBA.
As can be seen by this shot chart, Bennett has had an exceptionally difficult time adjusting to the perimeter shot in the NBA. Combined from behind the arc, he is 11-for-51, and unfortunately the perimeter shot was a huge part of his college game. Getting used to the three-point line will take some time, but he will be able to figure it out in time. Once he is able to get a full offseason of work in getting used to the distance, he is going to come back and shoot at a much higher level.
Bennett has been working on his post game as well, but he is a bit undersized to play the power forward position that he played in college. He has very good athleticism, which will benefit him greatly as he continues to improve his game. There is no doubt that he has a great work ethic and a motor that never seems to stop, but he needs to have the time to get used to the nuances of the NBA game.
Overall, the Cavaliers have a very good player in the making. Anthony Bennett isn’t likely to turn into a superstar type of player, but he has great potential to be a solid role player and possible starter. The Cavaliers may not be very happy with the production that they are getting out of the number one overall pick this season, but with patience they will be rewarded in the long run.
Evan Massey is a Staff Writer for HoopsHabit.com. Follow Evan on Twitter at @Massey_Evan.