Anthony Bennett‘s rookie season has been historically bad when compared to previous players taken No. 1 overall in the NBA draft.
The Cleveland Cavaliers forward is averaging 2.4 points, 0.2 assists and 2.2 rebounds in 10.4 minutes per game this season. Aside from his disappointing production, Bennett also has received criticism for coming into the season in less-than-ideal shape.
In a recent appearance on Fox Sports Live, Hall of Fame point guard Gary Payton made some strong comments on Bennett’s physical condition.
“You need to be in the gym before the gym opens, you should be there after the gym closes,” Payton said. “You came in overweight. You look fat … Get in shape, get ready, you need to prove yourself.”
Bennett is listed at 259 pounds on the Cavaliers’ web site, which is a lot for a 6-foot-8 player who doesn’t have the size to play power forward or the athleticism to guard small forwards, especially on the perimeter.
The Cavaliers have a decision to make with Bennett. They could play him around 10 minutes per game (not enough for him to develop) or send him to the D-League, where he would get more playing time and an opportunity to fine tune the skills that made him the top pick.
Bennett needs to develop a consistent outside shot and a repertoire of low-post moves to overcome his weaknesses. Orlando Magic forward Glen Davis came into the NBA at a similar size and became an important player on a few championship-caliber Boston Celtics teams after working on his mid-range jump shot and turning it into a real asset.
To be fair to Bennett, big men normally take longer to develop in the pros than guards. The competition is more fierce and the speed of the game is much faster. With that said, the former UNLV star should take Payton’s advice and get in better shape. It would help him in so many ways on the court.
Check out Payton’s comments on Bennett in the video below.