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Anthony Bennett working on ignoring criticism, finding his game

Dec 31, 2013, 12:57 PM EDT

Golden State Warriors v Cleveland Cavaliers Getty Images

In a historically bad season for a No. 1 overall pick, Anthony Bennett is trying to measure his progress.

Since the Andrew Bynum suspension he is getting 15 minutes a night. If you want some positives look at it this way: In his first 10 games he averaged 1.3 points a game on 13.5 percent shooting; in his last five games he’s up to 3.4 points a game on 31.6 percent shooting — not good, but not as dreadful.

The criticism piled on the rookie would weigh on anyone and he spoke to the News Herald about trying to deal with that.

“I don’t pay attention to all that,” Bennett said. “That’s people’s opinions. I have to focus on what’s going on here and win some games….

“I’m trying to get back to my old days like I was in college,” he said.

Of course he said it’s not bothering him, what is he going to say?

Coach Mike Brown had a more honest assessment.

“He’s getting better (dealing with it),” he said. “It’s helped him become a stronger individual. At first, I think it bothered him. He wants to play better and prove to everybody he was worthy of where he was selected.

“At first, I think it wore on him. Now, it does bother him, but he’s strong enough to fight through it.”

Bennett being taken No. 1, while it had been rumored a little on draft day, was still a big surprise and considered a reach. It put a lot of pressure on a guy seen as athletic but raw and a bit of a project.

Shoulder surgeries kept him out of Summer League and summer workouts, so when he got to camp he wasn’t in shape. He’s worked on getting his conditioning right and finding his game in the NBA.

At this point it’s still too early to call him a bust, but he looks more like a guy who maybe could develop into a rotation player rather than what one expects out of a No. 1 pick.

At some point when does the finger pointing fall on Chris Grant and Cavaliers management? They had a number of picks and while they nailed Kyrie Irving there are questions about Tristan Thompson, Dion Waiters and now Bennett. That’s a lot of high picks for a 10-20 team.

  1. jeffkx - Dec 31, 2013 at 1:16 PM

    I’ve said this 1000 times. Anthony will be fine. He’s now lost about 20 pounds and he’s finally not huffing after running down the court every play. He will never live up to be a number 1 overall pick, but he will have a Thad Young type of career (15pts,7-8rebs).

  2. peopletrains - Dec 31, 2013 at 1:28 PM

    This is part Mike Brown, part too high of expectations.

  3. asimonetti88 - Dec 31, 2013 at 1:34 PM

    It seems to me like Chris Grant is always trying to make picks to prove he’s smarter than everyone else… so that he can say, see what I saw that no one else did? Sometimes that works out, but when it doesn’t, it leads to even more questions.

    • jeffkx - Dec 31, 2013 at 2:16 PM

      I would agree with that for the Dion and Tristan selections, but I firmly believe that the Cavs thought Anthony was the best pick in a weak draft. I could be way off, but I really don’t think Grant was doing a “I’m smarter than everyone” thing with Bennett.

  4. JMClarkent - Dec 31, 2013 at 1:50 PM

    I don’t understand why he wasn’t in the D-League when he wasn’t getting any burn earlier.

    True, you have to eat a bit of crow, but no one gets better by not playing.

  5. 00maltliquor - Dec 31, 2013 at 2:30 PM

    Looks like he needs to find the gym first!

  6. dondada10 - Dec 31, 2013 at 2:34 PM

    What would the draft look like if the teams got to re-do?

    1. Oladipo
    2. Burke
    3. Adams
    4. McLemore
    5. Carter-Williams

    • money2long - Dec 31, 2013 at 3:36 PM

      carter williams will still go higher because of his trade value. screw team needs.

  7. brianscalabrine - Dec 31, 2013 at 2:40 PM

    I don’t get the hate for Tristan Thompson. Sure, he’ll never be great, but he is a consistent double-double threat. Also, he’s only 22!!

  8. stephenolszewski - Dec 31, 2013 at 2:40 PM

    Bennett has looked a lot better since they’ve upped his minutes, and he’s moving a lot more there’s times where he’s the first one up the court which doesn’t say much but the shape he was in earlier this year he would barely make it past half court and the ball would be going the other way. The odds were stacked against him earlier this year because he was only getting 5-6 mins so he was rushing shots and taking some terrible ones. Now that he gets the extra 5 or 6 mins more he’s become more patient it looks. I agree with one of the comments above he’s not going to be a superstar but will have a nice career.

  9. dinofrank60 - Dec 31, 2013 at 3:09 PM

    I’ve felt that the first pick in the draft does not mean that the player picked is the best player in the draft. But if you’re picking first, your pick better be able to help you from the beginning.

  10. obmig - Dec 31, 2013 at 4:32 PM

    I figured it was as simple as him not being in shape because of his surgery and the fact that they have a ton of depth in the front court. I bet he looks great post all star break.

  11. sportsfan18 - Dec 31, 2013 at 7:22 PM

    It was NOT this kid’s fault he was taken #1.

    He sat out there waiting for his name to be called and had the shortest wait is all.
    That’s ON the team.

    Kwame Brown is laughed at, overrated they say. Well, he should NOT have been selected #1 overall either.

    Now it’s messing with this kids head and he’s struggling more than he should be.

    If he would have been picked say 9th or 14th or whatever, he wouldn’t be an afterthought by any means, but it wouldn’t be like this.

  12. ravenswhat - Jan 1, 2014 at 4:45 PM

    I will never understand that pick. They were poised to be terrible anyway so just pick Noel and then gear up for Wiggins or Parker next year. Bennett was never seriously discussed in any mock as a potential 1st pick. It was a huge mistake. Only Cleveland.

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