The top pick in this year’s NBA Draft, Anthony Bennett, a 20-year-old talent out of UNLV, came as a surprise to many despite the lack of stars in this year’s talent pool.
This year’s Draft was all about risk vs. upside, and it seems that the upside of Bennett outweighed any risk in the eyes of the Cleveland Cavaliers organization.
At 6-8, 240, Bennett, who also comes equipped with a 7-foot-1 wingspan, is a dynamic athlete who, with time, could come to join Kyrie Irving as the faces of the Cavaliers organization.
That is not to say this kid won’t contribute immediately. Sharing time with an already solid unit of PFs including 22-year-old Tristan Thompson and 23-year-old Tyler Zeller (both being former All-Rookie team selections), Bennett should make an immediate contribution to this team.
However, it is Bennett’s time at the small forward position, where he will share time with last year’s starter, Alonzo Gee, that gives him the opportunity to have the biggest impact.
Bennett’s athleticism allows him to use his 6-foot-8 frame and length to get to and finish consistently at the rim. Off the bounce, Bennett could be the best athlete in the Draft, other than maybe Victor Oladipo. He is an above average shooter with some range, which gives him the advantage of using the whole floor, something he will need playing on the wing.
He also has the uncanny ability for someone his size to run the fast break; Bennett was on the receiving end of many lobs at UNLV as a result of starting the fast break and ending it with the give and get back above the rim.
Bennett will also be effective at PF paired with the smaller Thompson or Zeller playing center for a quick lineup that will focus on creating turnovers with high pressure to get on the break. This fits well with a Mike Brown defensive focus and can really give teams problems with their athleticism and length.
At either forward position, Anthony Bennett fits well with whichever pairing that this team has to offer, now including Andrew Bynum. A lot of scouts are seeing this ambiguity as a weakness, but his dynamic fit grants Bennett the ability of being able to contribute in a number of ways for the young Cavaliers this upcoming season.
The lineup possibilities a player like Bennett creates for a team like this makes the Cavaliers a force in the East next year. The Cavs could run and gun with a younger lineup in Irving(21), Waiters(21), Gee(26), Bennett(20), and Thompson(22); Bennett at the small forward would allow a Thompson/Zeller, Bynum/Varejao front court, which could really clog space defensively, suffocating offenses with their length.
Wherever he plays, Bennett will surely find an advantage over his defender. Bennett’s huge frame will allow him to shoot over other small forwards, while he will be able to take most PFs off the bounce. His range will also open up the lane for his other frontcourt teammates. Stretching the floor and getting up and down seem to be where the Cavaliers are going. Bennett fits perfect in this mold, and with leader Kyrie Irving and new signee Andrew Bynum, Dan Gilbert may get the playoff run he is hoping for.
Some believe Bennett may not have been the best use of this year’s number one pick, but for the Cavaliers, he was their guy from the start. With one of the youngest cores in the NBA, the Cleveland Cavaliers are positioning themselves for a long future with or without a big signing in the 2014 offseason.