Christmas is an easy date on the calendar to start saying the season is getting ready to turn. It is a dividing line in the season as basketball takes over the sporting world's conscious nationally with football season preparing to end. The broadcast networks begin featuring the NBA more prominently in their sports lineups.
There are now enough games in the sample size to begin making some firmer conclusions on players.
So far, those conclusions are not good for those from the 2013 NBA Draft, particularly its lead man Anthony Bennett.
The Cavaliers forward, who missed much of the summer with a shoulder injury and was a little late getting into the swing of things. He has appeared in only 21 games for the Cavaliers scoring 50 points in a little more than 10 minutes per game. Bennett might be in and out of the rotation all year unless he finds his rhythm.
That is not what is supposed to happen with the number one pick. And it has become further evidence that the 2013 Draft class was truly one of the worst in the league's history -- or at least since the Lottery came into existence.
Marc Stein of ESPN explained to Jodie Valade of the Cleveland Plain Dealer that this year's class has reached record bad performances. Certainly Bennett's so far:
It's very early but right now, he's looking like the worst in the past 20 years. That includes Greg Oden. Oden was injured all the time, but when he played, he at least looked like a No. 1 pick.
Really, only Victor Oladipo and Michael Carter-Williams are proving to be valuable starters at the moment. A few others like Trey Burke, Mason Plumlee, Tim Hardaway Jr. and Steven Adams have been solid. Giannis Antetokounmpo looks like he might be a big star down the road. But all of those players except Oladipo weren't even in the conversation for the No. 1 pick.
The Cavaliers are sitting at 10-17 and a game out of the final Playoff spot. Cleveland certainly had Playoff dreams with Kyrie Irving and Andrew Bynum on board. It has been a rough ride through plenty of ups and downs already through nearly 30 games. Dion Waiters has been on and off the block with rumors that he sparred with other teammates after a game earlier this season.
Things have not been pretty in Cleveland so far this year.
Like with all the young players so far, patience appears to be the word of the day. Cavaliers coach Mike Brown said he and the Cavaliers continue to take a slow approach with Bennett. There is no pressure on him to perform or live up to the billing of being the No. 1 overall pick.
"He is [finding his way]," Brown said. "He's progressing well. The neat part about it is there is no internal pressure on him from his teammates or from the coaching staff. We just want him to get better each time he steps out on the floor."
It is very hard to find much positive in Anthony Bennett's game right now. In college he played a lot of power forward and dominated the Mountain West on the inside. He also relied too heavily on his jump shot and 3-point shooting. It was unclear what kind of forward he would be in the NBA.
It appears the Cavaliers are still figuring that part out too. He has a few more years to get himself back into shape and ready to contribute to the Cavaliers.
The book on this NBA Draft class is far from written though. Bennett's struggles this year could give way to a long career in the NBA very easily. It is still early in his and the rest of the rookies' careers. It is too early to call anyone a bust.
The development is just slow.
Not to brag, but I never saw much potential in him. I remember that the Suns could have drafted him if he fell to 5, and I was hoping they didn't. I wanted them to draft Alex Len instead and was very happy when the Cavs picked Bennett, because they did me a huge favor. The only thing that made me happier was seeing the Bobcats take Cody Zeller off the market with their #4 pick. Thank you Michael Jordan. Now, why did I assume Bennett would be a risky pick? Look at him. He looks slow, overweight, un-athletic (apparently he even has asthma and sleep apnea), he's too short to play PF, and too slow to play SF. He physically probably doesn't belong in the NBA, just as a player that is a paraplegic does not belong in the NBA. Just as Cody Zeller is probably too skinny to be in the NBA. Every year there are college "power forwards" who are touted to be great by scouts and other so-called experts, but they are undersized if they are under 6'10". Very few players under 6'10" have excelled at the position in the NBA, even if they can stretch the floor. This year there is a 6'9" player named Aaron Gordon who is another undersized PF. Pray that your team does use their 1st pick on him, or others like him. He's being compared to Blake Griffin, but Griffin is 6'10", and yes, that one inch makes all the difference in the world, like for example when you are playing against Blake Griffin.
@JohnMerrifield I think with Bennett he had a lot of potential. I did not see him as a No.1 pick player either, but the guy can score. The problem with him is that he is a tweener. At 6-foot-8, he is too small to play power forward which is really what he was best at UNLV. I thought his post game was really refined but he hung around the perimeter a bit too much. Clearly, the offseason shoulder injury really hurt him and put him out of shape. It will be interesting to see if he can get himself into shape with a full offseason of working out. For now, Cavs should probably get him playing time in the D-League and keep his confidence up.