Anthony Bennett‘s journey in the NBA continues. After signing a two-year deal (only the first year is guaranteed) with the Brooklyn Nets, Bennett is looking to revive his career.
The Brooklyn Nets are taking another gamble.
The Brooklyn Nets are Bennett’s fourth team in a four-year stretch, which is very uncommon with a former No. 1 pick. His rookie year for the Cavaliers was bad to say the least. Bennett was a throw-in with in the Cleveland and Minnesota trade that sent Kevin Love to the Cavaliers to join LeBron James.
To the surprise of the NBA landscape, the Cleveland Cavaliers selected him with the first overall pick in the 2013 NBA draft after a promising freshman campaign at UNLV.
Before the Brooklyn Nets signed him to a deal, the Nets worked out the 6’8″ Bennett for two days at a veterans mini-camp back in May and he did well, according to various media reports.
Net fans shouldn’t have high expectations for Anthony Bennett, but the Brooklyn Nets’ gamble to sign the former UNLV star suggests Brooklyn Nets’ front office operates far differently than it has in the past when Billy King was General Manager.
Kenny Atkinson is a former coach with the Canadian national team, who Bennett plays for. Against the Dominican Republic, Atkinson was an assistant coach with the Atlanta Hawks at the time, Bennett played very well in 17 minutes of play in a Team Canada win, 120-103, scoring 14 points on 4-of-5 from deep, while grabbing six rebounds.
Atkinson said that he liked what he saw out of Anthony Bennett, that he was impressed by the big man’s skill-set. Bennett was under his rookie contract with the Timberwolves and still seen as the worst bust in NBA history. Minnesota bought out his contract exactly two weeks after the game. The Toronto Raptors, his hometown team, took a shot on him with a minimum deal. Bennett’s tenure with the Raptors didn’t last long after he released on March 1.
Raptors beat writer for the Toronto Star, Doug Smith, had this say about Bennett right after he was cut from the organization:
"Those who closely watched Bennett in his one season in Minnesota, will tell you that as hard as they tried to work him and make him into a professional, the demands were just too great for him to accept.Privately, NBA people worried about his true love for the game, his dedication to conditioning, his willingness to consistently put in the time necessary."
Bennett has dedicated himself to a training regime to show teams, like the Nets, that he was in better shape, losing some weight to prove he can play in the league. His desire to improve his body and his game stood out to the Brooklyn Nets. Sean Marks and Atkinson put together a mini-camp in late May for veteran and invited Bennett.
Atkinson had this say after Bennett worked out for the team:
"“This summer, we had him in our gym for three weeks, so we got to observe him on a daily basis. I think his body has been transformed; we did our intel on him and heard a lot of good things. We’re taking a good risk.”"
Jay Triano, head coach of Team Canada, had this to say about the new Anthony Bennett:
"“His body composition has changed,” Triano said of the noticeably thinner Bennett. “Last year he couldn’t have practiced like this the whole time, we had to play him in spurts and I thought today he was very good.”"
Bennett played well exhibition games for Team Canada, making their way to Manila for the Qualifying Tournament. Oh, yeah: One of Bennett’s dunks could’ve broke the internet:
In the Qualifying Tournament, Bennett averaged 6.8 points and 5.0 rebounds while shooting 33 percent from deep. Without Andrew Wiggins, he and Tristan Thompson were the big names on the Team Canada roster. They ended up losing to France in the final game.
Bennett is the third power forward behind veterans Trevor Booker and Luis Scola. Bennett will have to keep impressing coach Atkinson. Chris McCullough is also growing as a player, which makes the competition even more competitive. Bennett likes competition:
"“I feel like it is a great fit for me. Starting fresh, starting young, bringing a lot of people in. I feel like I can be one of those key pieces.”"