Cleveland Cavaliers rookie Anthony Bennett is dealing with a strain to his left patellar tendon, and the knee injury will keep him out of action for approximately three weeks.
Play-by-play announcer Fred McLeod broke the news Monday via Twitter:
Anthony Bennett is out with Left patellar tendon strain and will be out for approx 3 weeks..— Fred McLeod (@CavsFredMcLeod) March 10, 2014
Bennett was the No. 1 overall pick in the 2013 NBA draft, but has fallen woefully short of expectations. There are flashes of occasional brilliance that suggest the UNLV product has the potential to be a franchise difference-maker, yet he's still off to one of the worst starts of any top draft pick in recent memory.
The 20-year-old forward is averaging just 4.1 points and 2.9 rebounds per game in 12.7 minutes, as he has struggled to crack the Cavs' rotation based on lackluster conditioning and general performance issues. This injury does him no favors to right the ship in what has been a trying start to his pro career.
Bleacher Report's Ethan Norof feels that those jumping to Bennett's defense when he strung together some impressive games earlier this season were in the wrong:
Anthony Bennett: 4.1 points, 2.9 boards, 35.2%. Still can’t get stable minutes. The “figuring it out” crowd was a bit premature. #Cavs— Ethan Norof (@Mr_Norof) March 9, 2014
In a Dec. 30 report by the Akron Beacon Journal's Jason Lloyd, Bennett implied that he was still trying to find his way in the Association:
"I’m still clueless about this whole thing," said Bennett. "I’m still trying to learn a lot. I can still learn from my teammates, from the coaching staff, watching film. I just feel like this whole league is all about learning, just going out and playing."
Unfortunately, Bennett hasn't improved all that much since then, save for sporadic flashes of talent.
This 2013-14 season has been a massive disappointment for the Cavs, as they made a big effort in the offseason to surround star point guard Kyrie Irving with more pieces in the hopes of contending for the playoffs. Even in the weak Eastern Conference, Cleveland has struggled and appears destined for the draft lottery yet again.
Fired general manager Chris Grant made a lot of moves that haven't panned out, and Bennett is proving to be one of them.
There's no doubt Bennett has talent, but he could have used more reps on the court as his rookie campaign winds down. Now he'll miss a significant stretch of time, which will serve as a further setback to his already deliberate development.