New York, NY (Sports Network) - Not since Kwame Brown was the No. 1 pick in the
2002 NBA Draft have we seen a top overall pick struggle early on like the
Cleveland Cavaliers' Anthony Bennett this season.
Here are some of the early lowlights of Bennett's young career:
- it took Bennett five games to get into the scoring column;
- he missed his first 16 field goal attempts;
- he's 1-for-21 from the floor, which equates to a .048 field goal percentage.
- the one field goal is actually a 3-pointer and he's missed all 10 of his two-
point field goal attempts
It's no wonder that one local writer has already referred to the forward as
Anthony "Brick" Bennett.
But to be fair to the former UNLV standout, he's still rounding into shape
after being inactive for several months following shoulder surgery in May, and
he isn't the only lottery pick who is struggling, albeit not as badly as he is.
And at least he's out on the floor, which we can't say about Nerlens Noel, Otto
Porter, and C.J. McCollum.
Anyway, here's a look at some other lottery selections who are playing and have
had their struggles:
Oladipo, who was selected immediately after Bennett by the Orlando Magic, has
had some good moments, but overall his play has been too shaky. Some of that
can be attributed to him playing the point for the first time in his career,
and he's done a poor job of taking care of the ball, averaging 3.6 turnovers
per game in just 25.6 minutes, while dishing out 3.1 assists.
And his scoring output (12.1 ppg) is somewhat misleading because his two
highest-scoring games (19 and 17 points) were padded during blowout losses.
The former Indiana star, who was selected fourth overall by the Charlotte
Bobcats, didn't play well enough in the preseason to win the starting power
forward's job from Josh McRoberts. whose mainly been a career backup.
Zeller appeared tight and lacking confidence in the preseason and it looks like
that's the case in the regular season, too. The stat that bears this out the
most is his free throw percentage. Zeller was a 76 percent foul shooter in
college, but shot just 17-of-31 from the line in the preseason and is 7-for-12
in the regular season, for a combined 55.8 percent.
And the rest of his numbers aren't very good, either. In 17.1 minutes per game,
Zeller is averaging just five points and 3.1 rebounds and shooting only 42
percent from the field.
The former All-American from Gonzaga looked like he was ready for the big stage
with his outstanding performance in the Orlando Summer League, but that hasn't
been the case in the regular season.
Olynyk is averaging nine ppg in 22.6 minutes, but has had a tough time knocking
down shots, shooting just 42 percent from the field. He's also coughing up the
ball way too much, averaging 2.4 turnovers per game, and he's had his struggles
on the defensive end and has been in constant foul trouble. He'll always have
to deal with a lack of athleticism and length, so he needs to hit the weight
room to be able to battle in the low post on both ends of the floor.
- Kevin Love is showing absolutely no rust after being limited to just 18 games
last season. The Minnesota Timberwolves' power forward has arguably been the
league's best player over the first two weeks. He's averaging 26.4 points, 15
rebounds and a surprising five assists per game. Love came into the season
averaging just 1.9 assists for his career.
- Pending free agent Pau Gasol attributes a respiratory infection and a
strained foot for his slow start, but I see a player who looks tentative out on
the floor. The four-time All-Star is averaging 12.1 ppg in 27.8 minutes, but is
shooting just 38 percent from the floor. Gasol will have to prove he can stay
healthy and productive if he hopes to score a nice payday next summer.
- The Phoenix Suns' Eric Bledsoe will be a restricted free agent at season's
end, but it looks like he won't have any worries about landing a lucrative
contract. Bledsoe, who was acquired from the Los Angeles Clippers in the
offseason, is averaging 20.9 points, 7.3 assists and 4.4 rebounds per game with
his team shockingly atop the Pacific Division with a 5-2 mark.
- The play of Miles Plumlee and Markieff Morris are two of the biggest
surprises this season, and along with Bledsoe, are the big reasons why the Suns
have played so well. After barely seeing the floor in his rookie season in
Indiana, Plumlee was given the starting centers' job after the Suns dealt Marin
Gortat prior to the season, and he's taken full advantage of the opportunity,
averaging 11.7 points, 9.6 rebounds, 2.3 blocks and a whole lot of shot
altering. And as good as Bledsoe has been, you can make the argument that
Morris has been the Suns' best player. The third-year power forward is
averaging 17.2 ppg on an out-of-this-world 62.7 percent shooting from the
floor, and just as impressive, outplayed rising start Anthony Davis in two wins
over the New Orleans Pelicans.
- Despite playing the best basketball of his career, it's far from a sure thing
that Evan Turner will be with the Philadelphia 76ers next season. Turner, who
will be a restricted free at season's end, is averaging 23 points and 6.3
rebounds and is shooting a very impressive 50.7 percent from the field. The
Sixers didn't offer Turner an extension by the Oct. 31 deadline and the
prevailing opinion is that he'll be dealt prior to the Feb. 20 trade deadline
or the team will not re-sign him.
- Gregg Popovich and the San Antonio Spurs didn't have much use for DeJuan
Blair, and the Dallas Mavericks have turned out to be the beneficiary of that
situation. The Mavs are getting a great bang for their buck, having signed
Blair to a one-year contract for a mere $884,293. He's provided a huge spark
off the bench, averaging 8.8 points, 7.9 rebounds and 2.1 steals. In commenting
on Blair's hefty steals total despite his limited minutes, coach Rick Carlisle
noted the fifth-year forward has "long arms, great hands, great strength and
good anticipation." As for Blair, he looks at the past and the present this
way: "Another man's trash is another man's treasure," Blair said. "I'm taking
the last couple of years with the Spurs, everything the fans are saying and
have been saying, it's all fuel to what I'm doing right now."
- Los Angeles Lakers' coach Mike D'Antoni coach finally woke up and made an
obvious move with his rotation and it paid off immediately. D'Antoni started
Jordan Hill Tuesday night against the New Orleans Pelicans, and all he did was
put up 21 point and 11 rebounds in 26 minutes in the Lakers's 113-95 rout.
The Sports Network