On the night of the 2013 NBA Draft, the Cleveland Cavaliers selected Anthony Bennett with the first overall selection. Many announcers and fans, including myself, were left in complete shock. The 2013 class itself was not the strongest, but it did have a few potential bright spots with Nerlens Noel, Victor Oladipo and C.J. McCollum, just to name a few.
Bennett started his playing career at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas. In his one season for the Runnin’ Rebels, Bennett averaged 16.1 points, 8.1 rebounds and 1.2 blocks per game. Scouts projected him to be a lottery pick, even some having him late in the first round. When Cleveland was on the clock, I personally thought they would go with either Victor Oladipo or Nerlens Noel (yes at the time he was recovering from a torn ACL but his talents were hard to pass up). I remember watching the draft and when I saw Anthony Bennett’s name at the bottom of the screen I honestly had no idea who he was. Maybe the Cavs saw something we didn’t?
In his rookie year, he played in 52 games with no starts and averaged 4.2 points and 3.0 rebounds in only 12 minutes a game. Not really eye-popping numbers for a top selection in the draft. Next offseason, he was on the move, this time to the Minnesota Timberwolves in the Kevin Love three-team deal. At the time, it looked like a good move. Minnesota received two former number one overall selections in Bennett and Andrew Wiggins. What looked to be a great move for Bennett turned out to be not a great as many people expected, only improving his scoring to 5.2 points a game. Once his sophomore year was over, he was waived by the T’Wolves and was on the movie again this time to his hometown team the Toronto Raptors. He was sent down multiple times to the D-League and was waived again, ending his tenure with 1.5 points and 1.2 rebounds per game in 19 games played.
Fast forward to the beginning of this season where he signed with the Brooklyn Nets. The Nets are one of the worst teams in the league right now. Maybe this was a chance for Bennett to show what he can do in the league. He averaged only 5.0 points in 23 games played with Brooklyn.
Earlier this month, Bennett was waived from the Brooklyn Nets, his forth team in four years since being selected 1st overall. After seeing that, it got me thinking. It Anthony Bennett the biggest draft bust of all time?
Obviously, there are a lot of other considerations for who is the biggest bust in the NBA so let’s take a look at a few others I thought should be in comparison with him.
First, there is Greg Oden. Most of you know that he was dominant in his only year with the Ohio State Buckeyes and was there was a debate on wether he or Kevin Durant should be taken first overall in the 2007 NBA Draft.
I think most of you knew what happened to Oden. He only appeared in 82 games total in five years with the Trail Blazers after constant knee and foot injuries. With the hype that Greg Oden received out of college, the argument here is there for being the biggest draft bust in NBA history. If it weren’t for injuries, who knows what Oden could of done in Portland. I know you cannot predict injuries, but people are still in wonder on what could of been.
Another player to look at is Kwame Brown. Brown was selected first overall out of high school in 2001. He was regarded as one of the best high school players in the country and most thought he would have a long and successful NBA career. While he did play in the NBA for 12 years, he played for seven different teams with career averages of 6.6 points and 5.5 rebounds a game.
Disappointment to say the least? I think so. I give him credit for sticking around that long but being the number #1 overall pick out of High School he obviously did not meet expectations.
Adam Morrison is another name that comes to mind. During his time in Gonzaga, he was a scoring machine and won multiple collegiate awards. He was selected 3rd overall by the then Charolette Bobcats in the 2006 NBA Draft. After a solid rookie year in averaging 11.7 points a game, he caught the injury bug and was never the same. On the bright side, he did win two rings with the Los Angeles Lakers, but he barely saw the court during that time.
Michael Olowankani is another example of big man potential being selected #1 overall. The Los Angeles Clippers selected him #1 overall in the 1998 draft. He never averaged more than 10 points per game. Want to know the worst part of that selection, the Clippers pasted on stars like Paul Pierce, Vince Carter and Dirk Nowitzki.
I can go on and on with the amount of draft busts that have happen in the NBA. Sam Bowie, who was famously selected before Michael Jordan. Darko Milicic, who was taken before Dwyane Wade, Carmelo Anthony and Chris Bosh. What about Hasheem Thabeet? After looking to be the Star Big Man out of the University of Connecticut, Thabeet lasted only two season with the team that drafted him #2 overall, the Memphis Grizzlies.
Again, I can keep going with the amount of considered NBA Draft busts. But back to Anthony Bennett. Is he considered the biggest draft bust in NBA history. Let’s go over the things that “require” someone to be a bust.
- Mock draft projection
Often times, a draft bust is in generally in a scouts top 5, top 3 or even number one overall. Occasionally, they are in the top 10. SB Nation had multiple mock drafts and they all but one had Nerlens Noel going first overall. Pretty much everyone had Bennett in their top 10. Looking at other mock drafts and video, some even had Bennett a lottery, late-first round pick. When Bennett was taken first overall, everyone was in shock. People thought the Cavaliers saw something special in him that everyone missed, but as it shows now that is not the case.
- Injury history
Greg Oden had the injury bug for most of his career and sometimes you cannot blame someone for that. Marvin Williams, for example was drafted #2 overall in the 2005 NBA Draft. He did not miss much time during his long tenure with the Atlanta Hawks and currently with the Charolette Hornets. Most consider him a bust since while he was healthy, he never performed as the superstar he was during North Carolinas 2005 Championship season. For Bennett, injuries were never a problem, he just could not crack the rotation for the Cavaliers, Timberwolves, Raptors and the Nets.
- What players were taken after the player
This is hard to predict now because Bennett’s draft class is so young. Sometime the draft class is so weak that must forget that the player was considered a bust. An example of this is Stromile Swift. Swift was selected #2 overall in a very weak 2000 draft class and averaged 8.4 points in his nine year career. Who are some other players selected in the top 10 during that class? Darius Miles, who had the injury bug, Marcus Fizer, DerMarr Johnson and Joel Przybilla. While Swift can be considered a bust, looking at the entire class that year, you can argue that the class itself was a bust.
Like stated before this class is sort of young to decide at the moment, but guys like Giannis Antetokounmpo, Nerlens Noel, Victory Oladipo, C.J. McCollum and Steven Adams are looking like the Cavaliers might of missed out on some great players that could of been beneficial to the team.
As for Anthony Bennett’s career now, he is currently playing overseas with Fenerbache, a team in the Turkish league. Who knows, maybe this can revitalize his career and he can come back to the NBA a better basketball player.
For now, he is up there with the Kwame Brown, Greg Oden and Adam Morrison as one of the biggest draft busts in NBA history.