Nobody saw Anthony Bennett as the first pick in the entire freaking NBA Draft coming, except for two of my closest friends.
One told me that the Cavs should draft Bennett weeks ago, which either makes him a sage or clinically insane. The other said with a debatable amount of confidence, “Just watch, they’ll draft someone NOBODY sees coming. Like Anthony Bennett or something.”
The latter of those two conversations took place during a fly-infested Steak n’ Shake run that sounded like a great idea until it wasn’t. The guy who sat us surveyed the entire restaurant, saw that every table either had dirty dishes or people at it, then proceeded to clear the table with the least amount of dishes, put two paper placemats down without wiping anything, so yeah. Also, my double steakburger with cheese fries magically turned into a single steakburger with just fries. At that point, there was no point in trying to make a situation that was so comically wrong right. After enjoying (?) the meal and figuring the experience was just Steak n’ Shake’s deft opinion of my friend’s sick joke about Bennett, we left.
Then David Stern got booed and helped make his last NBA draft thoroughly entertaining with his responses.
Then Bill Simmons reaffirmed the fact that he’s the best.
Then I did what Bill Simmons did, just in the Louisville Bats’ press box while a game was going on. For anyone who thought Simmons was useless on ESPN’s coverage, I’m sorry that we disagree.
There’s a reason this post has taken a couple of days to be written, and that’s because it would have been overly dramatic and dramatically short-sighted if it were written any sooner.
In this blog’s brief draft primer, there’s a sentence that reads in part, “Anthony Bennett shouldn’t even be in the discussion here.” For the most part, he wasn’t in the discussion anywhere. Upon further review, not only is that the way Chris Grant likes it, but it’s an annual draft pretense that has already paid dividends for the Cavs. In other words, we all should have seen this coming.
As Grantland’s Andrew Sharp points out in his recent and excellent draft recap, Tristan Thompson and Dion Waiters were both surprising picks. Most would argue that both are now exciting parts of the future in Cleveland. While most would also likely argue that both of those picks combined were less shocking than Bennett, the Cavs could be on to something that most NBA pundits overlook. What that exactly is remains to be entirely seen.
The Cavs weren’t a winning team last year due to a slew of different factors, but the fact of the matter is that Waiters and Thompson are now starters for a team that showed some undeniable signs of being very good in the near future. The first point here is that people didn’t like/understand the picks of Waiters and Thompson, but people like them as players now.
None of that means that all doubters should just brush aside the Cavaliers’ defiance of the conventional wisdom that says players like Otto Porter were virtually perfect fits on the current roster. It does mean that Chris Grant has earned our patience and some measure of trust.
Here’s the part where we look into where Bennett fits into the big picture.
Ryan Jones of WFNY makes a lot of good points in his “Reasons to love Anthony Bennett”. My friend who shared in what will now be affectionately reflected upon as the “Steak n’ Shake with a Side of Flies Excursion” sees Bennett as a four who can play a stretch three if he loses the extra weight he’s carrying around. While my friend isn’t an expert, he did call the pick, which is better than virtually every expert can say.
ESPN’s Chad Ford sees him as the perfect pick-and-roll partner for Kyrie Irving, which is a fun possibility to think of after watching this highlight reel.
Bennett may never be an All-Star and probably won’t start, but has tools that the Cavs don’t currently possess. His jumper is far more versatile than that of Thompson’s. He’s more physical than Thompson. He’s not better or worse than Tristan, he’s different. Alright, he’s a freakin’ freight train with a good jump shot and explosive leaping ability. All of those things are good things ever since forever.
Leading up to the draft, the unofficial BS1999 Big Board had Noel, Porter, and McLemore in it’s final edition. It was wrong. Here’s to Anthony Bennett serving ten times the crow Ryan Raburn already has.
Finally, if “Oh, Canada” doesn’t become a nightly pre-game fixture at The Q, then what are we all really doing here in the first place?