The All-Star break is a great time for fantasy basketball owners to reassess their teams. Evaluating the players who are dead weight on your roster will help you make better decisions when scouring your league’s waiver wire.
Cleveland Cavaliers’ power forward Anthony Bennett has gotten a bad rap, but he’s a player to consider adding to your fantasy team for the stretch run. The rookie has tremendous upside and is a far better option than some of the guys who are sitting at the bottom of your team’s bench. Take a chance on him now, before it’s too late and someone else beats you to him.
As the No. 1 overall pick in this year’s NBA Draft, Bennett, who is owned in 6.5 percent of ESPN.com leagues, has been an utter disaster.
Through the Cavs’ first 44 games, he shot an abysmal 25.9 percent from field, which led to a measly 2.4 points. The 20-year-old was struggling so much that he racked up 12 DNP-CDs from coach Mike Brown, and there was even talk of sending him down to the D-League so he could work on his game.
All that changed on the evening of January 28th. It was a Tuesday game at home vs. the New Orleans Pelicans. A 14-3 run during a two-minute span in the third quarter gave the Pelicans an 81-59 lead. The game was all but out of reach for the Cavs, and Brown decided to keep his bench in for almost the entire fourth quarter.
Bennett used this extra playing time to his advantage, dropping 12 points (4-6 FG, 2-3 3PT) and grabbing four rebounds in the final frame. The rookie finished the game with 15 points and eight rebounds in 31 minutes — all career-highs.
Since then, it’s like Bennett is a different player from the one we saw during those first 32 games of his. He’s still very raw and has a lot of work to do, but we can see glimpses of why the Cavs chose to take him with the first pick.
In his last nine games — including his big night vs. New Orleans — Bennett is averaging 8.6 points, 4.8 boards, 0.7 steals, and 0.8 3-pointers in 20.8 minutes. He’s improved his shooting, too — knocking down 43.1 percent of his shots during that time.
I’m not going to sit here and tell you Bennett is a world beater — or that he is even worth owning in all leagues — but he’s a major part of the Cavs’ future, and the further we get into the season, the more the team seems to be trusting him. Since Cleveland fired former GM Chris Grant, the Cavs have gone 4-0 and have their sights set on the playoffs. Bennett has been a huge part of that winning streak, most notably when he set new career-highs with 19 points and 10 rebounds vs. the Sacramento Kings this past Tuesday.
Middling power forwards like Glen Davis, Brandon Bass, Kevin Garnett, and Cody Zeller are all owned in way too many leagues. If you’re rostering one of these guys, consider dropping them in favor of the youngster out of UNLV.
Anthony Bennett may me a small blip on the radar now, but he’s steadily improving. His youth and hunger for the game, as well as his desire to prove his doubters wrong, could make him a force to be reckoned with down the stretch. Make sure he’s on your fantasy team when that happens.