Predicting Where Anthony Bennett's Rookie Year Will Rank Against Cavs' Best

Greg Swartz@@CavsGregBRCleveland Cavaliers Lead WriterOctober 31, 2013

Predicting Where Anthony Bennett's Rookie Year Will Rank Against Cavs' Best

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    2013 first overall pick Anthony Bennett is next in line in the grand history of Cavaliers rookies.

    The question is, can he be the best?

    While players like Kyrie Irving, LeBron James, Austin Carr and Brad Daugherty have enjoyed some fantastic freshman campaigns, could Bennett possibly meet or exceed their seasons?

    Here are the five best rookie seasons in Cavaliers history, and where Bennett will likely find himself among them when the season comes to a close.

6. Brad Daugherty,1986-1987

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    Rookie Stats Per Game: 15.7 points, 8.1 rebounds, 3.8 assists, 15.6 PER, 33.7 minutes


    Daugherty was the second first overall pick the Cavaliers franchise would win in its history.

    The 7-foot center from North Carolina didn't win Rookie of the Year but still had a great first season.

    He started all 80 games he played during his rookie season, and he helped lay the groundwork for what would become an annual trip to the postseason for the Cavs in the late 1980s and early 1990s.

    He was named NBA Rookie of the Month during March 1987.

5. Anthony Bennett, 2013-2014

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    Projected Rookie Stats Per Game: 15.1 points, 8.4 rebounds, 2.3 assists, 18.5 PER, 25.5 minutes


    Think of this as a "best-case scenario."

    Bennett put up similar numbers during his freshman season at UNLV and, if given the playing time, could do the same for the Cavaliers.

    We know the big man can score. Fourteen points in a single quarter against the Orlando Magic in a preseason game showed us that. Bennett can beat you with or without his back to the basket and has shown the ability to knock down the three-ball.

    Still getting back into game shape following offseason shoulder surgery, Bennett has a ways to go conditioning-wise. If he can drop another 8-10 pounds from the 250 he came into camp weighing, that would go a long way in improving his mobility and overall game.

    With playing time, Bennett could put up big numbers for the Cavaliers this season, so we'll put him at No. 5 on the list for now.

    Given the kind of years the gentlemen in front of him had, it's hard to imagine he could climb any higher.

4. Austin Carr, 1971-1972

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    Rookie Stats Per Game: 21.2 points, 3.5 rebounds, 3.4 assists, 14.5 PER, 35.8 minutes


    Carr simply dominated college basketball before becoming the Cavaliers' first overall pick back in 1971.

    While at Notre Dame, Carr averaged 34.6 points and 7.3 rebounds per game, shooting 52.9 percent from the field.

    Though he was not able to produce the same eye-popping numbers he put up in college, his professional rookie season truly was something special.

    Despite missing the first month of the season with a broken foot, Carr still led the Cavaliers in scoring during his rookie season with 21.2 points per game and made the NBA All-Rookie team.

    At 6'4", Carr had good size and was relentless when it came to attacking the basket.

    Unfortunately, all the potential he flashed during his rookie season would never be fully realized due to lingering injuries throughout his career.


3. Ron Harper, 1986-1987

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    Rookie Stats Per Game: 22.9 points, 4.8 rebounds, 4.8 assists, 17.2 PER, 37.4 minutes


    Harper had one of the most productive rookie seasons that one could ask for.

    Harper was born in Dayton and played his college ball at Miami of Ohio, and the Cavaliers were thrilled to land the Buckeye state native with the eighth overall pick in the loaded 1986 draft.

    Despite being picked after teammate Brad Daugherty, Harper actually finished ahead of his frontcourt teammate in Rookie of the Year voting, finishing second to Chuck Person of the Indiana Pacers.

    Harper had an outstanding career with Miami of Ohio, where he averaged 24.4 points, 11.7 rebounds and 4.3 assists during his senior season.

    An explosive athlete and scorer, Harper was one of the best offensive players of his time.



2. LeBron James, 2003-2004

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    Rookie Stats Per Game: 20.5 points, 5.5 rebounds, 5.9 assists, 18.3 PER, 39.5 minutes


    Ten years ago, LeBron James was a skinny 18-year-old forced into playing point guard for the Cavaliers.

    As it turns out, he was pretty good at it too.

    At the time, James joined Michael Jordan and Oscar Robertson as the only rookies in NBA history to average 20 points, five rebounds and five assists per game.

    James was constantly under the spotlight, yet he somehow managed to live up to and even exceed many expectations that were set before him.

    James would go on to win NBA Rookie of the Year after logging Rookie of the Month all six times.

1. Kyrie Irving, 2011-2012

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    Rookie Stats Per Game: 18.5 points, 3.7 rebounds, 5.4 assists, 21.4 PER, 30.5 minutes


    As good as some of the other players on this list have been, it's Irving who owns the Cavaliers' greatest rookie season.

    Harper, Carr and Daugherty all had great first seasons, but none were even named NBA Rookie of the Year like Irving was.

    When comparing Irving and fellow ROY James, the initial statistics can be misleading.

    For one, James averaged nine minutes more per game than Irving, which makes the numbers a little biased.  Based off of per-36 minute stats, Irving actually had more points (21.8 to 19.1) and assists (6.4 to 5.4) than James.

    Irving was also more efficient during his season (21.4 to 18.3 PER) and was the better shooter from all areas of the court (.469/.399/.872 to .417/.290/.754).

    Irving truly had a rookie season for the ages, and he continues to only get better.