Brooklyn Nets: Anthony Bennett worth a flier with open 2-way spot

Brooklyn Nets Anthony Bennett. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2018 NBAE (Photo by David Becker/NBAE via Getty Images)
Brooklyn Nets Anthony Bennett. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2018 NBAE (Photo by David Becker/NBAE via Getty Images) /

Anthony Bennett last played in an NBA game nearly 2 years ago with the Brooklyn Nets. With an open 2-way spot and short a stretch 4, Bennett’s not a stretch.

The Brooklyn Nets will have an open two-way roster spot when Alan Williams presumably clears waivers on Friday,

Williams was waived at his request Wednesday in order to sign a more lucrative deal in the Chinese Basketball Association.

Williams, who is almost 26, never appeared in a game for Brooklyn after missing the preseason with an ankle injury.

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He was playing well at the Nets’ NBA G League affiliate in Uniondale, leading the G League with 14.7 rebounds per game while leading the Long Island Nets in scoring at 21.0 points per game.

But the 6-foot-8, 261-pound Williams is much more an inside banger than a floor spacer and thus was not a terrific fit for Brooklyn’s system.

NBA teams can sign players to 10-day contracts beginning Saturday, but in order to make such a move, the Nets would have to waive someone from their 15-man roster

However, if the Nets want to use the two-way spot opened by the departure of Williams, they have less than two weeks to do so, as the deadline for signing players to the combo contracts is Jan. 15.

The Nets could use a stretch big and there just might be one floating around out there in the G League that’s worth a look.

Make that another look.

Anthony Bennett, the former No. 1 overall pick by the Cleveland Cavaliers, hasn’t played in an NBA game since being waived by Brooklyn in January 2017 and hasn’t been on an NBA roster since he was cut by the Phoenix Suns during the 2017 preseason.

Bennett will turn 26 later this month, but has been playing some solid basketball this season as a reserve for the Agua Caliente Clippers.

On Wednesday, Bennett put up 25 points in 28 minutes off the bench for the LA Clippers’ affiliate, hitting 8-of-15 overall and 5-of-12 from 3-point range to go with nine rebounds.

In 16 games for Agua Caliente, Bennett is averaging 14.5 points and 5.5 rebounds while logging just 21.7 minutes and is shooting 57.5 percent overall and a very solid 47 percent from long range.

Yes, Bennett is right up there with Greg Oden and LaRue Martin as the worst No. 1 overall picks in the history of the NBA Draft.

But let’s be honest — that 2013 NBA Draft, with the exception of No. 15 overall pick Giannis Antetokounmpo and the emergence of No. 2 overall pick Victor Oladipo, is not going to go down in history as a great one, or even a good one.

Two of the five best players in the group were selected outside the lottery, with Antetokounmpo falling to the Milwaukee Bucks at No. 15 and Rudy Gobert chosen No. 27 overall by the Denver Nuggets before being traded to the Utah Jazz in a three-way deal that netted them the rights to No. 9 overall pick Trey Burke. Whoops.

Besides Oladipo at No. 2, the lottery yielded CJ McCollum to the Portland Trail Blazers at No. 10 and Steven Adams to the Oklahoma City Thunder at No. 12.

Annnnnd, that’s about it.

The rest of the lottery yielded role players and journeymen, such as 2013-14 Rookie of the Year Michael Carter-Williams, now with his fifth team in six seasons, Otto Porter, Cody Zeller, Alex Len, Nerlens Noel, Ben McLemore, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope and Kelly Olynyk.

Besides Bennett, Shabazz Muhammad went from the 2013 lottery to out of the NBA. Cut by the Bucks in October, Muhammad is now playing with Shanxi Zhongyu in China.

Bennett has been in the G League the last two seasons, splitting last season between the Northern Arizona Suns and Maine Red Claws before being obtained by Agua Caliente in an October trade.

Bennett’s stint with Brooklyn two seasons ago was not a good one. He appeared in 23 games, starting one, and averaged 5.0 points and 3.4 rebounds in 11.5 minutes per game on 41.3 percent shooting overall and hit just 27.1 percent from 3-point range.

His NBA career numbers are just as paltry — 4.4 points and 3.8 boards in 12.6 minutes per game over 151 games, with shooting marks of 39.2 and 26.1 percent.

But here’s the thing.

Forget the No. 1 overall draft pick status. That ship sailed a very long time ago. At this point, Bennett is just another journeyman looking for another chance in the NBA and he’s doing the job quite well in the G League right now.

He’s hitting 47 percent from 3-point range this season on more than five attempts per game, so it’s not some sort of aberration. Bennett can shoot.

He shot 42.3 percent last season on 6.1 attempts per game in the G League, so this year’s results are building on last season’s success from behind the arc.

He’s got decent size to be a stretch 4/small 5 in today’s NBA at 6-foot-8 and 245 pounds and he’s a low-cost, non-salary cap addition on a two-way deal.

It gives the Nets an opportunity to audition someone who could fill a depth role as a legitimate stretch 4, rather than one of the converted small forwards Brooklyn has been mixing and matching in that role this season.

And it gives Anthony Bennett a chance to at least get his foot back in the door of the NBA after being written off as an all-time bust.

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Seems like very little to lose and a lot to potentially gain.