After having a week to digest the Cleveland Cavaliers selecting Anthony Bennett with the No. 1 overall pick, I’ve become really excited with the possibilities of how open and fluid the Wine and Gold offense can become with the former UNLV combo forward. Despite having over 70 percent of his scoring production come in the paint thanks to his powerful athleticism, Bennett has shown in his on year at UNLV that he can help out a squad from almost any place on the court. This is exactly the type of player that we want to be paired up with Kyrie Irving, whether he will be dishing it to the Canadian product down low, just outside the paint or on the perimeter.
Although he lacks the ability to bang up with bigger players in the paint in order to maneuver his body to get to the basket despite having a rather large frame (around 240 pounds), his power and footwork solved those issues at the collegiate level. Head coach Mike Brown will have to work his lack of height by making up for it with his 7-1 wingspan. It is then that he will become the complete that the Cavs need to move out of the rebuilding process, but I am looking farther down the road in his development. His rebounding skills aren’t effort-filled just yet, but his ability to tip in missed shots, posterize opponents in the lane and get under the basket for reverse layups will make Bennett an exciting player to watch in Wine and Gold for years to come.
We’ve seen from the highlights how Bennett can overpower small forwards and gas out power forwards. His fearlessness on offense, however, is what intrigues me the most. He’s not afraid to put the ball on the floor, take it upcourt when needed, spot up and shoot from outside the paint without hesitation and react quickly when heading into the lane. His extension and ability to get up above the rim will make him a NBA highlight reel for years to come. I know prefer drafting a player like Bennett over a limited offensive liability in Nerlens Noel because I believe Bennett has the intangibles to be a good defender in this league. I didn’t see that with Noel, who barely shot from five feet away from the hoop and couldn’t convert from the charity stripe to save his life (52.9 percent). Bennett got to the line over five times a game, and converted over 70 percent of the time. That’s something I like to see from a shooter, especially since we have a power forward on this team that can’t convert from the line to save his life (not as bad as Nerlens, though).
An interesting fact that I found on ESPN Insider was that “Bennett ranked eight in the nation with 1.3 isolation points per play and did not commit a single turnover on such plays.” This further proves the fearlessness I was referring to earlier, and his protruding confidence will allow him to receive more minutes from Brown in his rookie season than many may think right now. Don’t let his flop in his sole NCAA Tournament game define what kind of player he will be at the next level (shot 36.4 percent from the field), but look more at how he fills Cleveland’s needs in more than one way. Although general manager Chris Grant is adamant on saying that Bennett is a power forward, I still think that he can exist in a small lineup next to Tristan Thompson. Want to know the ranking of the top five teams in the NBA by height as of right now? In this order it goes: Philadelphia 76ers, Detroit Pistons, Oklahoma City Thunder, Portland Trail Blazers and Toronto Raptors. The Miami Heat, Los Angeles Clippers, Atlanta Hawks, San Antonio Spurs, Indiana Pacers and the Chicago Bulls ranked in the bottom half of the NBA in regards to size, as teams with speed are becoming the trend in this day and age. Even though Bennett isn’t the fastest specimen, he’ll trim down and will be able to create mismatch problems at the three in size and at the four in agility. I’m confident that this was the pick that had the most to offer in a weaker draft in recent memory.