LAS VEGAS: Anthony Bennett walked this path before, but he hasn’t given Andrew Wiggins much advice about the pressures that being the No. 1 pick in the draft carry. But he did have one piece of advice, something Bennett wished he would’ve done last season.
“The one thing I told him to do is go out and have fun,” Bennett said. “That’s the one thing I wish I did last year.”
Bennett concedes now last year wasn’t much fun for him, from the conditioning issues to the shoulder injury and the lack of consistent minutes. Now he is spending the first few days of summer league trying to distance himself from last year.
If he keeps playing like he did Sunday, last season’s problems will be quickly forgotten.
Bennett had 13 points and 14 rebounds in an 82-70 win over the San Antonio Spurs. He made his first two shots and gave himself a fist pump after each. He added a powerful dunk late in the game and was all over the boards in one of his finest performances in a Cavaliers uniform.
“He’s really worked hard. I think that’s the most important thing is for him to get in shape and be the kind of player he can be,” coach David Blatt said.
“Last year is in the past. We’re looking ahead and I really hope and believe Anthony will be a big part of what we do.”
Bennett has always felt comfortable in Las Vegas. He attended high school and college here. His high school principal, his AAU coach and a couple of his former teachers were in the stands Sunday watching him play.
Although the Cavs had Saturday night off, Bennett returned to the gym to watch the other summer league games and say hello to old friends.
Now his new coach is excited what a healthy, well-conditioned Bennett can provide the Cavs.
“Everybody at the end of the game always looks at how many he scored,” Blatt said. “The guy had 14 rebounds. You get 14 rebounds, you’ve got a place to play.”
Summer league surprise
Summer invitee Will Cherry was terrific in Sunday’s win against the Spurs. Cherry had 21 points, including 14 in the fourth quarter, and is proving to scouts and league executives he’s fully healthy after missing summer league last year with a fractured foot.
That hindered his ability to land an NBA job, although he was picked up by the Canton Charge late last season. Cherry is known for his defense, but can also score.
The biggest problem for the point guard is his size. He’s generously listed at 6 feet, but that’s inflated by at least a couple of inches.
The Cavs have Kyrie Irving, Matthew Dellavedova and perhaps Dion Waiters to run the point, depending on how Waiters and Wiggins are used, so Cherry’s odds of making the Cavs seem long. But there are plenty of others who will be interested if he continues playing this way.
“Coming from college and being hurt, you kind of forget how it felt to be healthy,” Cherry said.
“I’m 100 percent and I feel better than I ever have. It’s crazy. I can’t put it into words. That’s where a lot of my intensity and a lot of fun comes in. I know there’s nothing holding me back now and I can just go out there and play the game.”
Wiggins had 13 points and three rebounds in Sunday’s win, but shot 3-of-11. Wiggins is now 10-for-29 shooting in two games. … The Cavs are now 2-0 in summer league and will play the Philadelphia 76ers on today at 8 p.m. EDT (NBA TV). … Summer invitee Jack Cooley bears a striking resemblance to former Cavs forward Luke Harangody. Both Cooley and Harangody attended Notre Dame, too.
Jason Lloyd can be reached at email@example.com.