One of the most surprising NBA draft picks in recent memory was made by the Cleveland Cavaliers, who used their No. 1 pick to select Anthony Bennett out of the University of Nevada at Las Vegas. Given the downward spiral his career has taken since draft night, the pick has gone from surprising to arguably the worst draft pick in NBA history.
The Phoenix Suns announced on Wednesday they were waiving the top draft pick-turned-journeyman after signing him to the training camp roster in the offseason. He never even gained any playing time during the preseason. His time in Phoenix was another letdown in a career filled with disappointment .
One has to wonder what’s next for the 24-year-old former college star. Another trip back to the G-League makes the most sense if he’s still fervent about getting his basketball career on track, but we are entering the territory of long-shot odds for a player who hasn’t shown the ability to compete at the next level.
A year after drafting Bennett, the Cavaliers sent him to the Minnesota Timberwolves, along with Andrew Wiggins, as part of a blockbuster deal to acquire Kevin Love. The decision to trade Wiggins is a matter still up for debate, but there is no question dumping Bennett was a prudent move by the Cavaliers’ front office.
He has played for the Toronto Raptors and Brooklyn Nets, as well as their G-League contemporaries. He even spent time playing international ball in Turkey.
Still, none have been fits for Bennett, who seemed hell-bent on turning things around with the Suns.
“I was out in Las Vegas, trying to get right and my agent thought this was the best place for me,” Bennett told AZ Central. “I feel like what I went through in the past has definitely set myself up for greatness,” he said. “It’s proving to myself that I belong. Not proving to anybody else or even shutting everybody up. Just having confidence in myself knowing that I can play with anybody on the court.”
Four years after being drafted, Bennett is still trying to prove he belongs in the NBA.
One of the alluring traits about his game that likely piqued the Cavaliers’ interest was his ability to get buckets consistently. Yet, his point average has dipped from 16 points per game in college to 4.4 in the NBA. He has also struggled defensively, and he’s consistently a no-show on the boards.
There is still plenty of time left if he wants to continue chasing his NBA dream. He’s still a young player who can improve with the right effort. However, time may not even be the biggest obstacle if the talent isn’t there.
It’s a hard truth Bennett may have to come to grips with.