He came in behind schedule due to shoulder surgery recovery, and was clearly not in game shape. He didn’t score his first field goal until the fifth game of the season, is shooting 31.9 percent from the field and has generally looked lost all season in an offense that has seen just about every relevant player struggle. His team, the Cleveland Cavaliers, are just 19-33 and there had even been talks of sending the forward down to the D-League, which would have been more acceptable had it not been for the fact that he was the first pick in the draft. When you’re the first pick, there are expectations. Bennett met none of it.
He is, however, beginning to show some positive signs. He scored in double digits for the first time two weeks ago in a losing effort against the New Orleans Hornets. Since then, Mike Brown has given the rookie more consistent playing time, and there have been some bigger returns as of late.
Bennett has scored 11 points or more in three of his last five games. On Monday against the Sacramento Kings, he had 19 points on six-of-nine shooting, including three-of-three from the 3-point line, to help secure a 109-99 win. He also hauled in 10 rebounds, giving him the first double-double of his career. That’s big progression from where he was just a few weeks ago, and no one seemed happier than owner Dan Gilbert after the game:
Congrats @anthonybennett on the 1st of countless double/doubles you will toll. Proud of you for ignoring the malcontents. Keep grinding!
— Dan Gilbert (@cavsdan) February 12, 2014
Statistics show that Bennett may be the worst first pick of all-time, but he is starting to show signs of life and can only continue to go up from here on out.
James Park is the chief blogger of Sheridan Hoops. You can find him on twitter @SheridanBlog.