averaged 15.8 points and 8 rebounds in 34 games at UNLV last season. (Greg Nelson/SI)
The Cavaliers selected Anthony Bennett with the No. 1 pick in the NBA draft on Thursday. Here's a look at Bennett and how he fits with Cleveland:
Bio: UNLV | Freshman | Power Forward
Vitals: 6-7, 239 pounds
2012-13 Statistics: 15.8 points, 8 rebounds, 1.2 blocks, 52.6 percent shooting in 34 games.
Strengths: Bennett showed versatility in playing out of position as a center for part of his freshman season at UNLV. At his best, though, Bennett views himself as a stretch power forward because of his ability as a ball handler and perimeter shooter (he hit 36-of-96, or 37.5 percent, from three-point range last season). He's also a capable finisher in transition and a quality rebounder. With his ball skills at his size, Bennett can create mismatches for defenses.
Weaknesses: Is he a small forward or power forward? Which position will he be able to guard in the NBA? Bennett is undersized as a power forward and could struggle to keep up with small forwards. A better post-up game would help round out his offensive game. Bennett missed pre-draft workouts and will be unavailable for summer league after having rotator cuff surgery on his left shoulder in early May, but he's expected to be ready for next season. As for his asthma, Bennett downplayed concerns: "It's not a big deal. It's not like I'm the first one in the NBA to have it. It's just something I've got to take care of."
What Scouts Say: "He got soft as the year went on. Why? His desire to play defense is another question. He's a good athlete but not a great one. He's going to be a better player in the pros than he was in college, because when he was in college he played with selfish teammates."
The Cavaliers kicked off Thursday night's draft with a major surprise: Bennett was seen as someone in recent days who might slide out of the top 10 picks. The first Canadian to be selected No. 1 overall, Bennett is undersized but possesses a strong, thick frame. The pick is particularly surprising, as the Cavaliers used the No. 4 pick in the 2011 draft to select Tristan Thompson
, another power forward. Often compared to Larry Johnson, Bennett is a talented offensive player and a determined rebounder. Cleveland owner Dan Gilbert has made it clear he wants to make a run at the 2014 playoffs, and Bennet should be able to give strong rotation minutes immediately.