INDEPENDENCE: Anthony Bennett’s scoring drought is reaching historic levels, but coach Mike Brown is sticking with the No. 1 pick in the draft.
Bennett is 0 for 15 shooting through the Cavs’ first four games, tying him with Olden Polynice, Terence Morris and Reggie Evans for the second-longest games played streak to begin a career without a basket (since the 1985-86 season), according to STATS, LLC.
Should he fail to score a basket in Wednesday’s game at Milwaukee, he’ll tie Joel Anthony for the longest games played drought to start a career. The Heat’s Anthony, ironically another Canadian who like Bennett also attended UNLV, played five full games his rookie year with the Miami Heat before making his first basket. The difference, of course, is Joel Anthony was an undrafted free agent who attempted just two shots in those five games. Bennett is the reigning No. 1 pick in the draft.
Teammates and coaches are trying to encourage him, but the drought is clearly weighing on the rookie. He tweeted following Monday’s game he was going “ghost” for a while. Reporters asked to talk to him Tuesday, but he had left the facility shortly after the formal portion of practice concluded.
Veteran Jarrett Jack doesn’t want to draw more attention to Bennett’s slump, but he’s trying to remind the rookie he is a special player who made it to this point because of his talent.
“The one thing you have to have to be successful in this league is confidence,” Jack said. “Once that starts to waver everything else ... it’s like a snowball effect. There was going to be a time this season when he had a rough stretch. It’s just that that it started first couple games of the season.”
Bennett’s confidence certainly looks shaken by the slump. He blew an open layup at Indiana on Saturday, then missed three more attempts Monday in the win over the Minnesota Timberwolves.
Brown, however, has no intention of removing Bennett from his rotation.
In fact, aside from the scoring drought, Brown has been pleased with other facets of Bennett’s game. He has actually defended better than Brown expected and his rebounding numbers have been sufficient – he had five in the opener against the Nets and six Saturday against the Pacers. He also has four steals. It’s the scoreless drought that is overshadowing everything else.
“Defensively he’s been better than what I thought. I thought he was going to struggle,” Brown said. “He’s picked up on the concepts, he’s been tougher and stronger than I expected.
“I’ve seen it with my own eyes. He can score from all three levels and once he figures out how hard he has to play offensively in order for it to happen on a possession-by-possession occurrence, he’ll be good.”
Sixers rookie Michael Carter-Williams was named the Eastern Conference Player of the Week, the first rookie to do it opening week since Shaquille O’Neal. Second overall pick Victor Oladipo has made 21 baskets as a backup with the Orlando Magic. Then there is Bennett, the only rookie in the league without a basket (minimum 15 attempts), according to STATS.
“There’s 78 more (games) to go. There’s such a long way to go, it’s going to be crazy,” Jack said. “Once we’re into January or February and he’s his old self, I’m going to go up to him and say, ‘You did all that worrying for nothing.’”