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Anthony Bennett struggling with conditioning as he starts NBA career

Oct 11, 2013, 9:04 PM EDT

Anthony Bennett AP

Part of the reason it was a surprise Anthony Bennett was the No. 1 overall pick is that nobody had seen him workout — he had shoulder surgery and did not go through the NBA Draft Combine, or do pre-draft workouts this season. After that he couldn’t play in Summer League either.

So maybe it’s not a shock he’s got some conditioning issues to start the season.

Bennett talked to Jodie Valade of the Plain Dealer and told her getting his body in NBA shape has been the hardest part of adjusting to the NBA so far (hat tip to KD at Ball Don’t Lie).

The biggest adjustment, he said, is getting back his conditioning. Although he said he’s at his 240-pound playing weight, the Cavaliers would like to see him slimmer in order to be more aggressive.

“The conditioning,” Bennett said. “I’ve been working on it, I’m trying to play longer periods of time in games. Whenever Coach puts me out there I want to go out and play hard, but I’m still trying to improve on that. I’m just taking it day by day.”

That conditioning — and the rust of not having played since April — is showing as Bennett was 2-of-12 in Cleveland’s first preseason game. In the second game (going on as this story was written) he started out 0-of-3. (UPDATE: He his 5-of-7 after I wrote that, shaking off his shooting slump for a monster first quarter.) He has seemed solid on the boards.

There is no rush here. The Cavaliers can bring Bennett along slowly behind Tristan Thompson this season (and ultimately determine which of the two is a part of the long-term plans of the organization). Bennett is the No. 1 pick, he’s going to get his chance. Once he gets into NBA shape.

  1. kb2408 - Oct 11, 2013 at 9:27 PM

    Maybe it’s just me but this is not something you want to hear when you’re talking about the first pick in the draft. I’m not saying he won’t prove to be worthy of his draft status. I’ve never even seen the kid play on any level. However, from what I’ve seen in the past with players who have weight/conditioning issues is one of two things. Either they get in shape, or they struggle with the issues their entire careers.

    • denverhoopdreams - Oct 11, 2013 at 9:37 PM

      Wow, this is the first time I’m ever agreeing with you. You’re totally right though.

      • kb2408 - Oct 11, 2013 at 11:20 PM

        What took you so long, my friend?

    • zoomy123 - Oct 12, 2013 at 1:31 AM

      Or…he could be struggling with conditioning because he hasn’t played in 6 months due to shoulder surgery. This isn’t a case where someone was completely healthy and had to opportunity to get in shape, but didn’t; Bennett was injured and thus couldn’t practice. Moreover, if you read the article it states that he’s already at his playing weight of 240 lbs.

    • 00maltliquor - Oct 12, 2013 at 3:19 AM

      I usually agree with laker…um..kb2408, but this time I have to say, uuhh…duh.

      You either get in shape or you don’t. There is no other option.

      Unless you meant they struggle with weight and being productive their whole careers. And even then you’d still be wrong. Exhibit A: Shaq. Exhibit B: Barkley Exhibit C: Zach Randolph.

      • whereyaat - Oct 15, 2013 at 11:41 PM

        Your reasoning is pretty hard to argue with. But then again, at what point do you declare them to be a Shaqtus/Barkley/Zebo? My answer to that question is after Year 2, especially with a guy coming off a shoulder surgery.

  2. jabronikid - Oct 11, 2013 at 9:55 PM

    And then he scored 14 points in the fourth quarter completing the cavaliers comeback. Nice article though wrong timing lol.

  3. jamesk2465 - Oct 11, 2013 at 9:56 PM

    Well… he just scored 14 points in the 4th quarter today so I would say he’s def getting in shape #Cavs

  4. rhaaland - Oct 11, 2013 at 11:06 PM

    How does he go 5-7 after starting 0-3? Special player.

    • Kurt Helin - Oct 12, 2013 at 8:46 PM

      He hit 5 of his next 7. Seemed clear to me.

  5. georgewashingtonsghost - Oct 12, 2013 at 6:38 AM

    Bennett will be fine. He’s Elton Brand 2.0.

  6. stephenolszewski - Oct 12, 2013 at 7:39 AM

    He’s coming off shoulder surgery so kind of hard to stay in shape when you have to recover all summer he will get in shape…

  7. whereyaat - Oct 15, 2013 at 11:47 PM

    I hope he listened to his doctor and didn’t rush his return. Shoulder surgery patients can often suffer additional pain and symptoms if they reaggravate the joint, which is highly likely in the game of basketball. A swollen shoulder could also really mess with a jump shot. Will be watching to see if he misses games throughout the season due to shoulder issues.

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