NBA Draft Busts Series: Anthony Bennett

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Have you ever seen someone and wonder how they got there? If so, Anthony Bennett is a perfect example. 

Context

It was the 2013 NBA Draft, not exactly the deepest or most talented class. The most notable players from this year were Giannis Antetokounmpo and Rudy Gobert. These two went 15th and 27th, respectively. 

No clear-cut number one overall prospect, like Anthony Davis or Karl Anthony-Towns emerged. Even then, no one from experts to fans and loads of mock drafts could have predicted what would happen next. 

The Cleveland Cavaliers used their top selection on UNLV’s Anthony Bennett. It was a head-scratcher back then and will always be. It’s made worse when you realize All-NBA guard Victor Oladipo was chosen right after. 

Look at these per-game numbers. 4.2 points, 3 rebounds, 0.3 assists, 0.4 steals, and 0.2 blocks in 12.8 minutes. Plus, 35.6% from the field and 24.5% from deep, and a free throw clip of 63.8%. These are undrafted player stats. Yet, this is all Bennett had to show on his first season and pretty much his entire NBA career. There were signs of life in his G-League stint, but nothing lasting. 

Why did Bennett become one of the biggest busts in professional sports?

Position

The Canadian was a tweener. All combo forwards face this dilemma. They would either be too slow for small forwards and too weak for power forwards or the opposite. Bennett was the former. At the NBA level, he could not simply dominate the competition with his physical gifts. 

Attitude 

Bennett had the reverse mamba mentality. His confidence nosedived in his rookie campaign and it never recovered. It was clear he hit a wall but did not bother to seriously work on his game. His shooting never got better and he could not reliably score inside. When your top pick reports to training camp out of shape, you know there’s a problem. 

 

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