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Cleveland Cavaliers

Cavs coach Mike Brown sees versatility in Bennett, anxious for competition with Tristan Thompson

By Jason Lloyd Published: June 28, 2013
Bennett and Felix
Cavaliers draft picks Anthony Bennett and Carrick Felix receive their jerseys Friday at Cleveland Clinic Courts. (AP Photo/Mark Duncan)

INDEPENDENCE: Now that he is here, the Cavaliers will go to work learning how to best use top overall pick Anthony Bennett. Figuring out how to play him with Tristan Thompson will be a balancing act that begins right away.

“They have to go out and compete,” coach Mike Brown said Thursday as the Cavaliers introduced Bennett and second-round pick Carrick Felix. “They may be buddies, but once they cross that line, I think they’ll get after each other. It’s great to have depth in all areas.”

General manager Chris Grant sees Bennett as a power forward, but others within the organization think he could develop into a small forward. Brown is willing to experiment with Bennett at the 3 if he proves capable of handling it defensively.

“Offensively, the exciting part is he brings some versatility to the table. If he’s at the 4, he may open the floor a little bit,” Brown said. “If he does play some 3, if I felt confident in him playing some of that, then he could be a bigger guy you may be able to post up at that spot. There’s versatility there, but it’s one of those things we’ll have to wait and see how comfortable he is on the floor when it comes to playing multiple positions.”

Brown is familiar with Bennett’s game from watching UNLV while his son, Elijah, was being recruited. Elijah looked at UNLV before settling on Butler, so father and son attended Rebels games together. But Brown said he was watching Bennett as a fan and not as a coach.

“I was excited when he dunked the ball, just like everybody else,” Brown said.

Questions remain about Bennett’s defense and Brown made it clear he won’t play if he doesn’t defend. The Rebels weren’t very good defensively and didn’t play anything close to the scheme Brown plans to install with the Cavs, so a learning curve is to be expected.

“I feel like I’m versatile,” Bennett said. “I can play inside and out. I’m unselfish. I don’t feel like I’ve got an agenda. I just want to help the team get wins. I feel like one part of my game I need to get better at is my defense, but I’m here and I’ve been put in a position to work hard every day and get better.”

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