It’s been about a week since it has been reported that the hypothetical Kevin Love-for-Andrew Wiggins trade will indeed be executed by the Cleveland Cavaliers and Minnesota Timberwolves on Aug. 23, the minimum 30 days after Wiggins signed his rookie contract. What still remains highly hypothetical, however, is whether or not the Timberwolves are also acquiring Anthony Bennett in the deal, and, given that, whether or not Bennett would then be traded by the Wolves to the Sixers in exchange for Thaddeus Young, who has one year remaining on his contract.
As rare as it is for Wiggins, the No. 1 overall pick, to be traded by the team that drafted him before even putting on their uniform, it’s even more bizarre to see a No. 1 overall pick, like Bennett, getting traded after his rookie year. While Bennett was certainly viewed as a lottery pick before the 2013 draft, it came as a surprise when the Cavaliers picked him No. 1.If the 2013 draft were to be — again, hypothetically — re-drafted, it would be fascinating to see where Bennett would go. Last season, Bennett did not just perform poorly for a lottery pick: he just plain performed poorly for anybody who is a member of an NBA roster.
If all of these hypotheticals do become truth, here are three things that the Sixers would certainly want to address if Bennett were on their team. This is by no means an exhaustive list of the things that could be improved about Bennett’s game:
1. Passing Ability
According to 82games.com, Bennett threw 10 passing turnovers up against 17 assists on the year. For comparison, brick-handed big man Andre Drummond had 25 passing turnovers and 35 assists, and the Cavs’ nondescript backup Tyler Zeller had seven passing turnovers up against 35 assists. In other words, Bennett — a power forward — passes like one of the bulkiest centers in the league.
Even less encouraging: in this one hear at UNLV, Bennett compiled 34 assists up against 65 total turnovers. Unless your job is to clean up the glass at elite rates, like Drummond, nobody is talented enough to afford to be a black hole on offense.
Bennett needs to play at least something resembling a team game if he is to stick around in the NBA.
2. Short Shots
Bennett has been ribbed endlessly for his poor conditioning last season. That conditioning pervaded to all areas of his game, even to places like you wouldn’t expect.
In this case: a giant percentage of Bennett’s missed the front side of the rim. If an NBA player missed a shot short (or, for that case, if one of us civilians does the same on a playground), it’s usually a sign of tired legs, legs that can’t produce the necessary push for a shot that is aimed true.
Bennett’s 3-point percentage went from a respectable 37.5 percent in college down to 24.5 percent last year, and he simply fell short with most of those misses.
3. Defensive Effort
I am far from the first person to note that Bennett’s effort on defense is sub-par. What’s ironic about Bennett’s style of defense is that, while he clearly thinks (and he’s right) that it’s a valuable offensive weapon to have a power forward shoot from the outside, he also rarely covers the opposing power forwards who shoot well from the outside.
Look at how far back Bennett sags of these power forwards who all have range:
Bennett faces a long climb up from where he’s at to NBA relevancy, and these would be good places to start.