Feb 20, 2013; Las Vegas, NV, USA; UNLV Runnin

Cleveland Cavaliers Draft Grade: Anthony Bennett

I’ll admit that I wasn’t one of the few that had the Cleveland Cavaliers selecting Anthony Bennett No. 1 overall, but I trust the Wine and Gold front office to make the decision that will make this team best in the immediate future (that means next season). Not only is he a player with amazing offensive capabilities, but his shooting abilities will be able to spread the floor for Kyrie Irving to run the offense more smoothly. For a 6-8 forward who shot almost three treys a game, he’s a pretty solid threat from outside, as he boasts a three-point percentage clip of 37.5 percent.

Bennett is a nightmare in the paint, as he kept a list of his dunk victims in high school until he hit triple digits. His intensity will bring something to the Cavaliers offense that I think is lacking, especially when Anderson Varejao is out of the lineup. Head coach Mike Brown and general manager Chris Grant both hinted that Bennett will play the four at the pro level, making him compete head-to-head with two-year veteran Tristan Thompson. That’s what makes this pick a bit of a head scratcher, even though I thought before Grant and Brown made these comments that Bennett could exist in the same starting lineup as Thompson. Within reason, I think putting your five best players on the court at the same time is an excellent strategy if there is a great mind leading the huddle, but it seems that Bennett will come off the bench at first.

Because I was initially shocked at this pick even though Cleveland gave not one person a clue  who they would take with the No. 1 pick, I didn’t know what grade to give this pick at the time David Stern announced the Cavs’ decision. But, I have faith in Grant and the Cleveland front office, and I like that Bennett has more to offer than a true small forward in Otto Porter would. The big question mark is whether or not Brown will be able to develop Bennett into a defensive asset, as that was his most uneasy area in college. This is an even bigger question mark than his shoulder surgery because he will be able to go by training camp (will miss Summer League), unlike Nerlens Noel. As a freshman he averaged 16.1 points and 8.1 rebounds, so the upside here is tremendous.

Grade: B+

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