Jun 28, 2013; Independence, OH, USA; Cleveland Cavaliers first round pick Anthony Bennett (12) is introduced by general manager Chris Grant during a press conference at Cleveland Clinic Courts. Mandatory Credit: David Richard-USA TODAY Sports

Anthony Bennett: Why The 1st Overall Pick Should Be Thrown Into The Fire

The Cavaliers have made a huge splash this season, completely altering their roster through the draft and free agency. In particular, the frontcourt has been bolstered through the additions of Earl Clark and Andrew Bynum. If Bynum can stay healthy, his play could also allow Anderson Varejao to shift to his more natural position at PF. But, these roster moves prove to be a bit of a dilemma for rookie and No. 1 overall pick Anthony Bennett. Bennett is already a bit of a tweener between the SF and PF positions, and with the pickup of Clark and Tristan Thompson being the starting PF, he may not start. In addition, since he is probably more well suited at PF than SF, it would make sense for him to get more playing time there, but with Thompson developing, and the prospect of Varejao perhaps playing at the four, the minutes available are slim. Together, this may mean that Bennett may not see the court as much as he’d like to to begin the season. If so, this is a HUGE mistake. If the Cavaliers want Bennett to reach his superstar potential, they must throw him into the fire immediately. To see why, look at the lists of players below.

PLAYERS WHO AVERAGED GREATER THAN 30 MPG IN THEIR ROOKIE SEASONS (rookie MPG averages in parentheses):
  • LeBron James (39.5)
  • Damian Lillard (38.6)
  • Derrick Rose (37.0)
  • Stephen Curry (36.2)
  • Kevin Durant (34.6)
  • Paul Pierce (34.0)
  • Brandon Jennings (32.6)
  • Russell Westbrook (32.5)
  • Al Horford (31.4)
  • Marc Gasol (30.7)
PLAYERS WHO AVERAGED LESS THAN 20 MPG IN THEIR ROOKIE SEASONS (all players were former lottery picks):
  • Darko Milicic (4.7)
  • Rodney White (8.1)
  • Brandan Wright (9.9)
  • Joe Alexander (12.1)
  • Rafael Araujo (12.5)
  • Hasheem Thabeet (13.0)
  • Kwame Brown (14.3)
  • Nikoloz Tskitishvili (16.3)
  • Stromile Swift (16.4)
  • DerMarr Johnson (16.8)
               This list is not meant to say that Bennett will be a superstar if he plays a ton of minutes, nor that he will be a disaster if he does not. It simply is meant to point out the correlation between players that are given the opportunity to play a hefty sum of minutes and success in the NBA. Gasol is particularly significant in that he was drafted in the second round; he was not highly thought of in the draft, however, he got the opportunity to play and improve and developed into one of the best big men in the NBA. Bennett has terrific upside – he has good size, good offensive skills and the ability to stretch the floor. However, he needs to play significant minutes in order to realize his potential, and the Cavs should make every attempt possible to get him into the starting lineup so that he does not end up being pearls before swine.

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