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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.

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