Not much has gone right for Anthony Bennett since the Cleveland Cavaliers selected him with the No. 1 overall pick in the 2013 NBA draft. But against the New Orleans Pelicans on Tuesday night, the rookie finally provided a glimmer of hope for the future.
Bennett notched 15 points, eight rebounds, one assist and one block in 31 minutes of action against New Orleans, making five of 10 field goals, including two three-pointers. Needless to say, nearly all of his numbers against the Pelicans either tied or set a new career high.
The much-maligned rookie came into the contest boasting averages of 2.4 points and 2.3 rebounds in 10.2 minutes of action. As bad as those numbers are for a No. 1 pick, his shooting woes could be considered even worse, as the forward has only made 25.9 percent of his field-goal attempts and 14.3 percent of his three-pointers.
The rookie came into the season noted for his versatility. At 6'8", 240 pounds, his body matched that of a power forward. However, his skill set and shooting ability was similar to that of a typical small forward. Instead of being able to play both positions effectively, Bennett has had a hard time finding a niche.
In fact, his struggles adjusting to the NBA game have been historically bad. It took Bennett longer than any other No. 1 pick in league history to post a double-digit scoring game. It wasn't particularly close, either, as it took Bennett 32 games. The closest to him is Andrea Bargnani, who accomplished the feat in his ninth NBA game.
Up to this point, he'd only appeared in 32 of Cleveland's 44 games and never played more than 20:19 in any of them. Hopefully his success against New Orleans will get the ball rolling and help the rookie build some momentum for the rest of the season.
Still only 20 years old, it's way too early to make any proclamations about Bennett's future. But he'll need to start having more games like this if he wants to live up to the lofty expectations that come with being the No. 1 pick.
Unless noted otherwise, all stats courtesy of Basketball-Reference.
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