When the Cavaliers were debating between Kyrie Irving and Derrick Williams two years ago, one of the questions regarding Williams was where to play him. He is either an undersized power forward or a small forward who struggles to defend the position. Two years later, Williams still doesn’t have a role in the NBA.
Now the Cavaliers are faced with another tweener in University of Nevada, Las Vegas forward Anthony Bennett, who will visit Cleveland Clinic Courts today. Of the candidates the Cavs are considering with the top pick in the June 27 draft, Bennett is believed to be the first to visit. Kentucky’s Nerlens Noel and Maryland’s Alex Len will arrive later this week.
Bennett is only 6-foot-7, but compensates for it with a wingspan that has measured at 7-1. He is tremendously athletic and has the potential to be an explosive scorer in the NBA, drawing comparisons to Elton Brand and Larry Johnson. He averaged 16.1 points and 8.1 rebounds during his freshman season with the Rebels and comes from the same hometown as the Cavs’ Tristan Thompson, creating an intriguing dilemma if Bennett is the choice.
Thompson and Bennett essentially play the same position, although Thompson also played center during his rookie year. Thompson flourished during his second year in the league, leaving Bennett to come off the bench should the Cavs select him.
In fact, the only candidate under consideration for the top pick who would have a clear path to a starting job is Georgetown’s Otto Porter Jr. Most everyone else would be a bench player, at least to start the season.
Bennett did not attend the predraft workouts last month in Chicago because he was recuperating from surgery to repair a torn rotator cuff in his left shoulder. He will not work out for the Cavs today because he is still recuperating, but it will at least provide the team the opportunity to speak with him, since they didn’t get the chance in Chicago.
Cavs General Manager Chris Grant flew to Las Vegas at least twice during the season to personally scout Bennett. The shoulder should be healed by August, meaning Bennett should be healthy for the start of training camp in October.
Bennett is an explosive finisher around the basket, but struggles with his back to the rim, according to the highly respected draft website DraftExpress.com. He has 3-point range, but was inconsistent shooting 3-pointers during the season.
The biggest concern with Bennett to this point is his defense. That could be a problem with new coach Mike Brown, who demands players defend in order to play.
Jason Lloyd can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Read the Cavs blog at http://www.ohio.com/cavs. Follow him on Twitter http://www.twitter.com/JasonLloydABJ. Follow ABJ sports on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/sports.abj.