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Anthony Bennett working on ignoring criticism, finding his game

Dec 31, 2013, 12:57 PM EDT

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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.

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