Anthony Bennett Will Shed Bust Reputation with Resurgence in 2014

Brian MaziqueCorrespondent IIIJuly 20, 2014

The Cleveland Cavaliers' Anthony Bennett drives toward the basket against the Milwaukee Bucks in an NBA summer league basketball game Friday, July 11, 2014, in Las Vegas. (AP Photo/John Locher)
John Locher/Associated Press

Whether he plays with the Cleveland Cavaliers, the Minnesota Timberwolves or some other as-yet-determined third team that helps to facilitate the long-rumored Kevin Love deal, via Chris Broussard of ESPN The Magazine, Anthony Bennett won't be called a bust after next season.

We don't know for sure if any deal for Love will happen, although the aggressive Cavaliers and their desire to win and appease LeBron James can't be taken lightly.

Because Bennett figures to be included in a deal that would bring Love to Ohio, it's a possibility that the 21-year-old's second chance could take place with the Timberwolves.

One season is always too early to put a bust label on a player—especially one who is so young. In this microwave society, we want it right now, and if whatever "it" is doesn't produce, "it" must be no good.

So far in summer league play, Bennett is proving he might just have the "it" the Cavs were looking for when they selected him No. 1 overall in the 2013 NBA draft.

In four games, Bennett is averaging 13.3 points and 7.8 rebounds a game. Those numbers are nice, but that alone isn't the reason Bennett looks to be headed for a better year.



LAS VEGAS, NV - JULY 13:  Anthony Bennett #15 of the Cleveland Cavaliers handles the ball against the San Antonio Spurs at the Samsung NBA Summer League 2014 on July 13, 2014 at the Cox Pavilion in Las Vegas, Nevada. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowled
Garrett Ellwood/Getty Images

Over the course of the season during the 2014-15 campaign, Bennett looked as if he was seriously doubting his ability to play in the NBA. It seems funny that a kid with so much talent would ever question whether he belonged in the league.

That's what a series of bad games and a coaching staff that doesn't believe in you will do. Bennett got off to a horrific start as a rookie, and his minutes faded. 

Per James Herbert of CBS Sports, Jerome Williams, a former NBA player and member of the coaching staff for Bennett's high school basketball team, said this of his former player's predicament:

It's very hard to keep your confidence when you don't play because you need to see that ball go through the hoop, you need to be interacting with the fans, you need to be interacting with your teammates on the court. If not, you're sitting there and you don't feel like you belong.

While effort and conditioning (more on that later) are certainly factors Bennett can control, the organization has a responsibility to cultivate talent. After all, it did just use the top pick in the draft to bring the kid in.

A young player can't find his confidence from the bench, especially when he's taking a beating in the media.



Bennett is still just a babe in his hoops journey, but he had to learn a lot from his tumultuous rookie year. 

When you see him in an interview now, he sounds more prepared and professional.

Bennett understands what's expected of him and looks ready to deliver. Per Herbert, Bennett said: "It's a business. You just gotta come out there and play hard because you never know when another player might take your spot."



AS VEGAS, NV - JULY 11: Anthony Bennett #15 of the Cleveland Cavaliers dunks the ball against the Milwaukee Buckson July 11, 2014 at Cox Pavilion in Las Vegas, Nevada. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using
Garrett Ellwood/Getty Images

Confidence and maturity aren't the only differences you notice when you see Bennett nowadays. He is noticeably leaner, and that has made him more explosive.

He was always a tweener, but when he's in shape, he has the dexterity to play small forward. That's probably the position where he'll find the most success in the NBA. Because he's physically strong and possesses a decent touch from outside, he can cause matchup problems for most small forwards.

He still has the bulk and rebounding instincts to play power forward, but it's not going to be the ideal spot for him long term.

That said, he might actually benefit from a move to Minnesota.

Let's face it, Bennett is never going to see a lot of clock at the 3 playing behind LeBron. While any player in his right mind would love to play with the King, Bennett might be one who needs to have his own success before he can appreciate being a part of a superstar's supporting cast.

In any case, the light has come on for Bennett. Barring injury next season, the league will see why the Cavs thought so highly of the young Canadian before last year's draft.


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