SI’s Ian Thomsen weighed in on the selection of Anthony Bennett by the Cleveland Cavaliers at #1 overall. Thomsen was asked whether the Cavs made a mistake with Bennett and who would he have selected. Thomsen devoted much of his mailbag to answer this question.
But Bennett’s start is the most disappointing of all. He missed his first 16 shots as a Cavalier, and had one field goal in his opening seven games. Bennett, a burly 6-foot-8 power forward, underwent shoulder surgery last May, has been diagnosed with asthma and sleep apnea, and weighs more than he did as the Mountain West Player of the Year as a UNLV freshman. He is the Cavs’ No. 13 scorer with 2.2 points in 11.4 minutes per game, he’s shooting 16.7 percent (3-of-18) from the three-point line and 22.4 percent overall. He’s totaled almost as many turnovers (10) as field goals (11), and Cleveland fans are booing him already.
When you look back at unsuccessful No. 1 picks of previous eras, there have always been obvious alternatives. The Wizards chose Kwame Brown No. 1 in 2001, but in hindsight they would have been much better served by Pau Gasol (who went No. 3), Joe Johnson (10), Zach Randolph (19) or Tony Parker (28). Top pick Michael Olowokandi was outplayed by fellow 1998 draftees Dirk Nowitzki (9), Paul Pierce(10) and Vince Carter (3).
The 2013 draft was hard to gauge in the walk-up, and now — about one-fifth of the way into these players’ rookie seasons — we still can’t make sense of it. The most productive rookies who have played at least half of their team’s games were all picked outside the top 10: Philadelphia’s Michael Carter Williams (11), Oklahoma City’s Steven Adams (12), Milwaukee’s Giannis Antetokounmpo (15), Brooklyn’sMason Plumlee (22), New York’s Tim Hardaway Jr. (24), Milwaukee’s Nate Wolters (38) and Boston’s Vitor Faverani (undrafted) have outplayed everyone in the top 10 save Oladipo.
Obviously Thomsen has concerns about the pick of Bennett but realizes that the other options weren’t really there either. Many Cavalier faithful would call for Noel as the pick, but since he won’t play this year that comparison will have to wait until the end of the 2014-15 season, if not later. The moral of the review of the Bennett selection is that time is needed to truly evaluated. Similar to the picks of Tristan Thompson and Dion Waiters, rarely are draft picks dynamic in their first year, they often need time to get in shape, understand the game and get used to a grueling 82 game season. Hopefully Bennett gets his chance to shine with the Cavs, most likely with statistics backing it up next year.