Saturday, December 28, 2013

Bennett pick sheds unkind light on Cavs' GM Grant

 If only Anthony Bennett let off this kind of steam (Trust me, that's funny).
Michael Olowokandi, Kwame Brown and Greg Oden. Three names that will forever live in infamy as well as compilations of the worst overall No. 1 draft picks in NBA history.

The career of Anthony Bennett  is still in its infancy, but the rookie forward's lack of readiness for the rigors of the pro game has put him on the short list for Bleacher Report's next "NBA's Most Shocking Draft Busts" column. 

If Bennett's numbers spoke for themselves, they'd be slurring like a drunk coming off a four-day bender. In 22 games, the NBA's top selection for 2013 has scored 50 points on 29 percent shooting.  Bennett averages ten minutes a game, though even in these brief stints he appears lost in Mike Brown's offense, getting few looks near the basket and flicking up panic jumpers like a guy playing pick-up at the local rec center.

Why is this man smiling? analyst Chad Ford believes Bennett has the potential to the worst No. 1 pick in two decades, with the caveat that the struggling big man came into camp out of shape after shoulder surgery. Whatever the excuse, it's disconcerting that Bennett has yet to play a meaningful second of basketball while a slow, undrafted Australian guy has hustled his way into the Cavs' rotation. 

Though it's too early to be completely flipping out over Bennett, the same can't be said for the man who brought him here. GM Chris Grant has spent the better part of three seasons rebuilding the post-LeBron Cavs, dealing for draft picks and cap space through a variety of moves. 2013 was supposed to be the year it came together, but the Cavs' 10-18 record - lowlighted by offensive struggles, sloppy play and an at times glaring lack of effort - has put Grant's reconstruction efforts under the microscope. 

Six first-round picks taken within the past three drafts are on the roster - Kyrie Irving, Tristan Thompson, Dion Waiters, Tyler Zeller, Sergey Karasev, and Bennett. That's a superstar point guard, a low-end double-double guy, a benched two-guard playing better as of late, two bit players, and a very critical unknown quantity. Not exactly the mix this organization needs if it wants to entice LeBron or anyone else here next summer.

It's true that Grant has operated under three years of weak drafts. Early returns for the 2013 class have been particularly dire, with Victor Oladipo (No. 2) and Michael Carter-Williams (No. 11) the only first-year guys making any real impact with their respective clubs. Still, for a team building its foundation through the draft, having just one upper echelon player in tow after three years of top-4 lottery selections is simply not good enough. That doesn't event take into account this past offseason's free agent signings of Andrew Bynum, Jarrett Jack and Earl Clark, none of whom have meshed well with the younger guys.

Should the Cavs continue to flounder, Grant's head could be the first to roll. If the axe comes down, it will be his entire draft history, not just the Bennett pick, that gets written up in the post-mortem.