Anthony Bennett was waived by the Nets today, a day after not getting off the bench in a loss to the NBA’s second-worst team. And in slightly more surprising news (to me, at least), Anthony Bennett was on the Nets.
Bennett played in 23 games this year and averaged 5 points and 3.4 rebounds per game, both of which, if we want to look for the silver lining here, were above his career averages. His stint in Brooklyn follows similarly limited action in Toronto, in Minnesota (where he was already nearly an afterthought in the Kevin Love deal), and in Cleveland, which drafted him first overall in 2013.
Whether Bennett catches on elsewhere or not, he’s started four games in four seasons and is right up there with the biggest draft busts of all time, or at least the modern scouting era. That’s a fruitless discussion, but it’s a fun one, and I can’t see who tops him among former No. 1s. Kwame Brown stuck around for more than a decade. Greg Oden got hurt. Even Michael Olowokandi played nine seasons!
Bennett gets some slack because the Cavs weren’t saddled with him for long, and 2013 was a weird draft, and there wasn’t really an obvious superstar behind him, with various mock drafts projecting Bennett, Alex Len, Victor Oladipo, or Nerlens Noel. (In retrospect you’d take Giannis and C.J. McCollum, but they only went at 15 and 10, respectively. No one had any clue that year.)
Bennett, a freshman out of UNLV, might’ve been a reach at No. 1, but the Cavs truly believed his ceiling warranted it. Here’s how one predraft scouting report described him:
Bennett is an imposing big man with cat-like quickness on the interior. He’s a matchup problem inside because he’s powerful enough to handle smaller defenders and quick enough to blow by bigger ones....He’s probably not tall enough to excel at power forward in the league, and that could be a big problem for him because his body type and skill set don’t fit that of a 3. He will play the 4 in the NBA, so he needs to figure out how to defend and rebound inside against bigger players.
Every worst-case scenario came true. Bennett proved to be trapped in a no-man’s-land, undersized for a big man but not quick enough for a true combo forward. His shot never improved, his defense remained atrocious, his athleticism was thwarted by—take your pick—either conditioning issues or a weird approach by the Cavs that never really gave him the chance to develop, or both.
I tried to think of an Anthony Bennett memory; I couldn’t. I looked on Youtube for highlights and it’s grim as hell. Here’s Bennett’s, uh, 12-point game from earlier this season!
Here’s Bennett’s 20-point game from 2014 with the Timberwolves!
(Both of these games were blowout losses for Bennett’s team. Which, I realize now, was the only reason he was given so many minutes in them.)
Bennett’s likely to catch on somewhere else—after all, it’s not even been four years since he was good, plus he’s still kind of a name—but the odds of that somewhere else being in the NBA are getting worse and worse each time.