Breaking Down What to Expect from Anthony Bennett During Rookie Season

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Breaking Down What to Expect from Anthony Bennett During Rookie Season
Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports

General manager Chris Grant and the Cleveland Cavaliers shocked the experts once again with their selection of Anthony Bennett as the first overall pick of the 2013 NBA draft.

Bennett is a 6'8", 250 pound power forward from Ontario, Canada, who played one season at the University of Nevada Las Vegas.  Just 20 years old, Bennett averaged 16.1 points, 8.1 rebounds and 1.2 blocks per game for UNLV during his freshman season.

Many questioned this pick by the Cavaliers, who already have an emerging power forward in Tristan Thompson as their starter.

What can Cavaliers fans and the rest of the NBA in general expect from the most recent No. 1 overall pick during his rookie season?

Let's break down his game.

 

Position

Bennett was been labeled a tweener forward heading into the draft, but was described by Grant as a power forward in the NBA.  Bennett has the body and skill set to score inside and out, but defensively may struggle guarding small forwards on the perimeter.

Chris Chambers/Getty Images

Grant drafted him to be a power forward, which is somewhat conflicting with the Cavaliers current roster.

Cleveland already has Tristan Thompson as their starting power forward, the No. 4 pick in the draft just two years ago.  Thompson also really came on strong last season, putting together averages of 11.7 points and 9.4 rebounds a game.

Thompson has played center for stretches before, but at 6'9", has difficulty defending true centers like Roy Hibbert, Dwight Howard and Brook Lopez.

I asked Cavaliers TV play-by-play announcer Fred McLeod who he thought would start at power forward, given that both Bennett and Thompson play the same position.

 

It appears head coach Mike Brown has a plan for how he'll use Bennett, but for now it looks like his rookie season will begin as a power forward off the bench.

 

Minutes

First overall picks are usually relied upon to produce right away.  This shouldn't be the case for Bennett, as the Cavs are already strong in the post with Thompson, Anderson Varejao and Tyler Zeller.

Teams typically don't like to overuse their rookies, especially with the increase in schedule going from college to the pros.  Minutes are usually plentiful for high draft picks, and not to the point it will wear that player down.

Last year's first overall pick, Anthony Davis, averaged 28.8 minutes a night for the New Orleans Hornets.  The year before, Kyrie Irving played 30.5 minutes per game.  As a reserve, I expect Bennett to see slightly less time than these two.

Expect Bennett to get around 26-28 minutes a night off the bench during his rookie season.

 

Production

Bennett was one of the most productive players in all of college basketball last season.

He's a nightmare to guard, being able to post up players while still showing the ability to hit a three-point shot.

What makes Bennett's stat line of 16.1 points and 8.1 rebounds even more impressive is that he accomplished this in just 27.1 minutes per game. 

Bennett was so efficient, in fact, that he led the entire Mountain West Conference in player efficiency rating (PER) at 28.3.  He was also first in the conference in win shares (5.7) and second in true shooting percentage (60.9 percent), per sports-reference.com.

Expect more of the same for Bennett in the pros, especially if he's going against a team's second string.  Not many players are as thick as Bennett in the post, an advantage he'll use over and over again.

Look for a stat line of around 13.5 points, 7.5 rebounds and 1.0 block per game if his minutes stay around the predicted 26-28.

Modest numbers for a first overall pick, but numbers that are sure to go up as his career progresses.

Mike Stobe/Getty Images

 

Awards

Four of the past five Rookie of the Year award winners have been guards, so Bennett has history against him when looking to take home some hardware.

What is Bennett's ceiling in the pro's?

Submit Vote vote to see results

Some of the early favorites to win ROY given their talent and situation have to be Victor Oladipo, Trey Burke, Ben McLemore and Bennett.

This isn't 2011, where Kyrie Irving faced little competition and ran away with the award.

Given that players like Burke and Oladipo should be immediate starters and have the ball in their hands a lot, I'd be hard pressed to peg Bennett as the best rookie this season.

Instead, expect an All-Rookie First Team selection, and hopefully plenty of All-Star trips down the road.

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