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While We’re Waiting… The Cleveland Cavaliers select- Anthony Bennett

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“There are a few ways this can resolve. Bennett could become a star. He could turn Thompson into a solid third big man, a guy to come off of the bench and play 30 minutes while providing some insurance. Or, Bennett could progress along as Thompson has and stay behind him on the depth chart. New coach Mike Brown could turn to smallball and play Thompson at center for longer stretches, along with Bennett. Or, we could have that usual nightmare: Bennett gets pushed to play small forward despite having the basic skillset of a power forward. It’s been tried a million times; it rarely works, especially in the smaller, faster NBA.” [Ziller/SB Nation]

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“Bennett starred as a freshman in the Mountain West Conference, averaging 16.1 points and 8.1 rebounds per game for coach Dave Rice and establishing himself as one of the most productive forwards in the NCAA. How he’ll slot in defensively alongside frontcourt mates Anderson Varejao and Tristan Thompson remains to be seen — Bennett was cited by the DraftExpress analysis team of Jonathan Givony and Mike Schmitz as a player who often jogged on D, relaxed in his defensive stance, exercised poor fundamentals and seemed to be in less-than-prime condition — but his finishing ability around the rim and outside stroke (37.5 percent from 3-point range in his lone season in Vegas) have led many to view him as a strong stretch-four prospect at the next level.

Forwards with the ability to not only win one-on-one matchups on the interior for buckets, but also step out on the floor and threaten a defense with perimeter jumpers can provide spacing for fellow post players on the interior (like, perhaps, incumbent forward/center and fellow Canadian Thompson) or driving lanes for wing penetrators (like, for example, All-Star point guard Kyrie Irving and rising sophomore shooting guard Dion Waiters), are rare, and in great demand in today’s NBA.” [Devine/Ball Don’t Lie]

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“The entire model could change, however, depending on the outcome of the Ed O’Bannon-NCAA case. In the spring, Big Ten commissioner Jim Delany infamously said Division I programs would go the way of Division III and not offer scholarships and de-emphasize athletics all together. Not many bit on that assertion and Delany eventually backtracked.

Asked about the subject on Tuesday, Smith said he’s long believed athletes should receive more financial support, especially the ones who are in need. How to go about that is the biggest answer that remains untapped.” [Rowland/Eleven Warriors]

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“Going by offense alone in 2013, there’s not much of an argument, I don’t think. Kipnis has been the best. In my opinion, RC+ is the single best statistic for hitting, and Kipnis is ahead comfortably. Even if you’re not sure about all these park factors/effects, Kipnis’ straight OPS is better than the other guys’ too (you should buy into park effects though!). I don’t doubt Pedroia is the better fielder, but Kipnis has become solid on defense, and for my money, the edge he’s got with the bat is enough to counteract Pedroia’s defensive advantage. Certainly there are reasons to have more confidence in the offensive statistical measurements than the defensive ones (for any player).” [Lukehart/Let’s Go Tribe]

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“Canada doesn’t have a ton of basketball tradition, but in guys like Bennett, Tristan Thompson and 2014 top-pick candidate Andrew Wiggins, it’s had some very talented basketball exports. This run of NBA Draft picks that began with the Cavaliers selecting Thompson at No. 4 in 2011 comes a few years after these talented Canadians started coming to America as teenagers to seek out better coaching and competition and to chase their NBA dreams.

The selection of Bennett — who only took up basketball in middle school — proves they’re on a fast track.” [Jackson/FSO]

  • Vindictive_Pat

    I told folks yesterday that if Bennett was the pick, there wouldn’t be an ounce of shock on my face… and yet I was still a little shocked. Not shocked at Chris Grant mind you, but more shocked that so many reporters and NBA bloggers we so very, very wrong. And I really shouldn’t have been shocked about that.

    I was cool with grabbing Bennett because I strongly believed that anyone the Cavs would have taken in this draft would have been a backup player heading into next season anyway. I didn’t see anyone unseating Kyrie, Dion, Tristan, or Andy, and I still think the Cavs are going to make a move in trade or free agency to land a small forward. At least I really hope they are… if they’re not, I’ll be a very unhappy camper… Wiggins or not, the Cavs can’t afford another year of tanking where they risk embittering Kyrie Irving.

  • Vindictive_Pat

    Ziller could have saved some word-space in that article if he would have read Chris Grant’s interview where he specifically said that the Cavs view Bennett as a power forward.

  • MrCleaveland

    Well I’ll be darned. Mike Brown leaked a little pre-draft smoke to ESPN’s Chad Ford and it turned out to be TRUE!!!! What are the odds of that?

    This could set a dangerous precedent.

  • Steve

    Both Porter and a healthy Noel would have been legit starters in the league. And if we just used the #1 pick on a bench player who sits behind a nice-but-nothing-special Tristan Thompson, I have to really question the decision making of the franchise. And I’ll say it as many times as it needs to be said, the only person that Kyrie can blame for all the losses is himself. If he’s going to pout his way out of town instead of figuring out how to keep his body in good enough shape to stay on the floor and learn to play a lick of defense, then we’re better off without him anyway.

  • humboldt

    A small, silly pet peeve – perhaps Rick, the resident uniform expert, can answer it: What is with these flat-brimmed caps that have words/graphics on the underside of the brim? I know the flat-brim style has been “urban chic” fashionable of late (displaying the silver New Era decal is a funny twist on it), but it looks utterly comical when players set an almost cubist-looking hat on their heads.

    At the risk of sounding like an old fogey, I hope this trend comes to a close soon.

  • Vindictive_Pat

    Absolutely disagree. You don’t run a franchise player out of town because of spite. Also, if you want to go ahead and put the “nice but nothing special” label on a second-year player, that’s fine, but I’m not joining you. Thompson’s potential is far from maxed out.

  • Couldn’t tell you the origin at all. I’m not a fan of the look either. I will say that for basketball players north of 6’4″ the underside of a hat is probably all that 90% of the world’s population will ever see while on a head that high up.

  • Harv 21

    Just caught the tail end of Chris Grant’s interview on The Fan. Missed the first part about Bennett but some interesting takeaways on the rest:

    – On their player board: We just pick our next best player. We don’t change it on draft day, we set it at a less emotional time because things get emotional during the draft.

    – We had 21 players we liked [I think this was the number, maybe less].

    – We had Karasev as our #11. Surprised and happy he fell to us.

    – It’s much easier to scout euro players like Karasev now because the league he plays in is so competitive. Equivalent to the ACC, and producing good NBA players recently. He’s been playing against grown men, 27 year olds. He’s ready to compete for a position now.

    – Having more good players means better practices under Mike Brown, players will now be pushing each other. [cough-Gee-cough]

    – The second rounder Carrick Felix was his fav player personality-wise. Loves this kid hard-nosed kid.

    – They will actively be pursuing a back-up pg and others (host cut him off here before he could name other positions), via free agency which starts Monday and via trades (hmmmmm).

  • Steve

    It’s not spite and it’s not running a franchise player out of town. Its the reality of the situation. Irving has been the “star” on a team that won 21 (on pace for 26 in 82 games) and 24 games. The best way to improve that is for Irving to get through a season healthy and not be a complete defensive sieve. They aren’t contending until those things happen, and if they’re not, then we’re better off moving on and starting over as quickly as possible.

    I’m not interested in wishcasting on Tristan. Do you see the guy ever making an all-star game?

  • @TheDeePagel

    What a huge surprise! Steve is upset over a Cleveland sports management decision.

  • @TheDeePagel

    What a huge voice of confidence the Cavs sent to Waiters though, passing on McLemore and Oladipo. Dion probably feels like he could conquer the world this morning.

  • Steve

    I’m a fan of the Karasev pick, and the potential to fill a role the Cavs desperately need. Hopefully he can improve on his 31% rate on jumpers as he bears less of the ballhanding burden and gets open looks from the corner.

  • Steve

    I don’t think I’m more frequently upset over a Cleveland sports management decision than most, and if I was, history has suggested maybe we should question these decisions more often.

    I actually like Bennett. I’m interested to see how he fits, and how much defense Brown can coax out of him just like everyone else, but I think he’s a good player. I’ve put it on the record that I preferred Noel, so I won’t back off of that, but I think Bennett was a good choice. I don’t like the idea of just having spent the #1 pick on a bench player though.

  • Vindictive_Pat

    First thought: yes, Kyrie was horrible on defense, but he was also asked to expend a ton of energy on offense. If you put good players around him, then this isn’t as much of a concern. I mean the guy is obviously a rising star, right? I think you’re proposing something here that you don’t really believe.

    Also, is it wish-casting on Tristan? Look at the jump he made between his rookie and sophomore campaigns. 44%FG up to 49%FG. 55%FT up to 61%FT. 9.8 rebounds/36 up to 10.9 rebounds/36. His WS/48 jumped up .06 per game. Why would you expect him to max out there? Besides the numbers, you definitely saw him add to his offensive game last season with that push shot and showing an improvement to avoid blocks. I don’t know if he gets to an All-Star game, but I can’t say it would surprise me at all if he did.

  • Vindictive_Pat

    I like Bennett too… his future seems like it could really go just about anywhere. If the Cavs get him eating right and taking care of his body and if Brown can get him to play defense, he could potentially be a hybrid 3/4 in a couple years depending on the matchup. He’s so clueless right now on defense though… Mike Brown has really got his work cut out for him.

  • Harv 21

    My teen daughter who has zero interest in sports was, shockingly, entranced by the ESPN draft production. Particularly the agony of the passed over, the look on Mommy Noel’s face, and McLemore’s quiet shout out to “my brother Brian, who’s locked up, and I guess you know is here in spirit.” Gave me a whole new take on the show. She also asked some questions I couldn’t easily answer:

    – Why do they boo the commissioner every time? (um, tradition based on a now-forgotten reason with a dash of peer pressure from watching previous drafts that makes no sense in NY which Stern overtly favors anyway, which is kind of like drunkenly throwing your own player’s homer run ball back on the field?).

    – Why is a player interviewing players? (um, better height differential? stumped again)

    – If you don’t show up, can you still get drafted? (hmm, maybe a worthy change there)

    – Why do they want the players passed over to be on camera at that moment where everyone can see their pain? (Ah, got this one. So you’ll sit and watch with me for an hour, sweetie).

  • Steve

    I think you put Bennett in the starting lineup, and see how he plays off of Irving, and make it abundantly clear to him that this season is about getting his feet wet and learning to adjust to the new speed. They aren’t truly contending this year, so learning, failing, and adjusting are the primary goals for Bennett.

  • Harv 21

    A 19 year old with size, multiple talents, great court vision and son of a baller and coach so used to the no-nonsense, sit-on-your-head, stay in the gym til it’s right method. Love it. Predict he’ll quickly be a Brown fav, despite the tender age.

  • Steve

    Rising star? Sure, I guess. I want to see tangible improvement on defense though. The are so far from contending because of that defense, and Kyrie is far and away the biggest culprit there. He was marked as the worst defensive player in the league in 2011-12, and didn’t really look any better this year. I’m a fan of Brown’s work, but he can’t just wave a magic wand and fix things. And I think it’s a lot easier to get the rest of the team to buy in to team defense when Irving is preaching, and practicing, it.

    Huge fan of the leap that Thompson took. But in regards to those WS/48, he’s still at 0.098, where league average is 0.1 He’s going to need another similarly huge leap to get even near all-star territory. I think he’s a good player, but I don’t see him making another huge leap

  • EZ

    “that makes no sense in NY which Stern overtly favors anyway, which is kind of like drunkenly throwing your own player’s homer run ball back on the field?”

    It’s actually not mostly filled with Knicks/Nets fans. I was there last night and spotted a lot of pockets of Cavs fans and there were a good amount of fans for almost all the teams around. There are a lot of transplants in New York and most of them bring their original team allegiances with them. I was booing just because it was fun to boo along with everyone else. Also by that point Stern was also hamming it up for the boos.

    “If you don’t show up, can you still get drafted? (hmm, maybe a worthy change there)”

    They also don’t actually invite all the players that might get drafted. See: Shabazz Muhammad being awkwardly introduced several picks late.

  • The_Real_Shamrock

    It’ll definitely be interesting to see how the head coach guru uses the new players. I know one thing Irving should absolutely love playing pick and roll with Bennett the way Bennett can pull up and hit the jumper.

  • The_Real_Shamrock

    Said it last night he reminds me alot of a young Toni Kukoc. The one thing he has for being so young is experience. He has logged alot of games including the Olympics. That’s a bonus for me.

  • The_Real_Shamrock

    Lets hope he rewards the Cavaliers for them believing in him. I still think they’ll add another guard though most likely a veteran backup PG. CJ Watson?

  • Harv 21

    solid comparison in skill set. Guessing Karasev’s a little physically tougher. because he’s excelling in Euro leagues that are much physically tougher than the Kukoc-era Euro leagues.

  • Harv 21

    is it fun?

  • EZ

    I think it was fun/worth it for the following reasons:

    a) The Cavs had so many picks this year
    b) The tickets were cheaper than I thought they’d be ($26)
    c) I ate dinner before I went there

    I went with other Cavs fans and we were calling out to other Cavs fans, so it was a pretty good time, but even then I, and most of the people I went with, didn’t stick around for the second round.

    So if you happen to be in the area on draft night it’s a cool thing to check out, but there’s a lot of downtime that they don’t fill it all that well so the excitement in the arena doesn’t really even last through the whole first round.

    Also, they weren’t announcing the trades that were going on, so we only knew about those because we were all on our phones.

    I would only go again if the Cavs had a top 3 pick again.

  • @TheDeePagel

    So see you there in 2014??? I kid….please God, let me be kidding.