David Blatt on Anthony Bennett: ‘Last year is in the past’

anthony bennett summer league

anthony bennett summer leagueAnthony Bennett has been a little bit of a media darling at this year’s Las Vegas Summer League. After missing last year’s event following shoulder surgery, he’s had a hot start in the Cavs’ first two games this weekend.

During Friday’s 70-68 victory over Milwaukee, he had 15 points and eight rebounds, somewhat over-shadowing the hyped Jabari Parker and Andrew Wiggins showdown. His open-court dunk became a viral hit.

Today, he secured a double-double with 13 points and 14 rebounds in a 82-70 win over the San Antonio Spurs. He even had a nifty crossover that caught some attention on social media.

After the game, head coach David Blatt was asked several questions about Bennett’s performance. He even joked “What is this, the Anthony Bennett show?” You can view the entire video on Cavs.com. Below are the quotes about Bennett specifically.

“I didn’t think (Bennett) played badly (Friday). I just think today like the rest of the guys having played a game before and getting those jitters out of their system, and being a little bit more patient, and not over-doing things, they all looked better. AB has been good since day one, since I came. He’s really working hard to get himself in shape. He’s really, really trying to do a lot of different things on the court to help the team win and not being under pressure to do one thing, just to stay on the floor. It’s a work in progress, but he’s doing a great job and I hope he continues with the same passion.”

“Anthony has the ability to do a lot of things, he can play with his face to the basket, with his back to the basket. I think it’s very important that he feels comfortable and that he tries not to hurry. As long as he lets the game come to him, as long as he makes good decisions, he’s in a good place like he was today. And you know what, people? Everybody at the end of the game, they always look, ‘Well, how many did he score?’ Guy had 14 rebounds. You get 14 rebounds, you got a place to play.”

“I came in and Anthony also came in with a clean slate. Physically, as I said, he’s really worked hard and I think that’s the most important thing for him to get in shape to be the kind of player that he can be. Last year is in the past. We’re looking ahead and I really believe and hope that Anthony can be a big part of what’s ahead.”

“Anthony can shoot the three-point shot. I don’t think he needs to take eight a game, but when he’s got a good look and he’s in rhythm and he’s comfortable, it’s definitely a part of his game, yes.”

Let the Anthony Bennett hype train begin. Hardwood Paroxysm’s Scott Rafferty is one of the many to already write about Bennett’s early performance. It’s nearly impossible not to get even mildly excited about these two games and how Bennett might emerge into hopefully a rotation player.

Yes, it’s the Las Vegas Summer League, a circuit known for its open-court highlights and statistics that don’t translate too well to real NBA basketball. But Bennett was atrocious in 2013-14. He wouldn’t have been a rotation-caliber player for any NBA team. Progress is progress, however mild. Losing 25 pounds was exciting; seeing Bennett play like this and hearing Blatt talk about Bennett like this is really, really, really exciting.

Photo via Ben Golliver on Twitter

  • Ezzie Goldish

    Can you imagine if last year’s first overall pick wins the Most Improved Player award?

  • TOJ

    AB- Most Improved
    LeBron – MVP
    Wiggins – ROY
    Waiters – 6th man of the year

    Cinch

  • Ezzie Goldish

    Blatt – COY?

    Kyrie, that bum, will only come away with an ASG MVP or something. Pfft.

  • Wow

    I know it’s early but I’m already liking Blatt. Stuff like this will boost a player’s confidence.

  • BlueDog

    How much of the AB hype is generated to try and get Minny to bite and send us Love?

  • mgbode

    Thanks for the summer league thread. First time I can remember actually watching full summer league games and being excited.

    Note: all of the below is off summer league basketball and needs to be taken with a good old grain of salt. But, it’s been a fun 2 games, so let’s do it for entertainment purposes only ;)

    Did anyone else see how Jabari was laboring? Dude couldn’t catch his breath. While he did still score 17 on 11shots, after Bennett last year, I noticed it and was happy to not have that worry with our pick.

    Wiggins pretty much played Jabari to a draw with both players playing just like their scouting reports read for good and bad (8 3pters Andrew? Really?).

    The more interesting dynamic were the 2013 1st round pick showdown. Giannis really is incredible. His passing is so much better than I remember from earlier in last season and he still has a decent handle and that ridiculous athleticism. Anthony Bennett (as mentioned in the article above) has returned to his UNLV-self. He has so much potential to be explosive and then step-back and hit a 3pter that one can finally see what convinced Grant to pull that trigger.

    Anyways, actually having basketball in the summer to watch is fun. Means nothing (or very little – you know like Bennett’s new waistline), but still fun.

    https://mtc.cdn.vine.co/r/videos/E25633CA181099538601471041536_2573f6002ba.0.1.3576986431191299765.mp4?versionId=fFcbkrjg0K5Y.snMnQl3QpGyEy8LOtXk

  • RGB

    Last year I kept telling myself, “He can’t be this bad, he can’t be this bad…”, so this is at the least, encouraging.
    His improvement could prove to be very underrated and important this year, as most people aren’t expecting anything out of him.
    I’m still looking sideways at him though…

  • eldaveablo

    After watching the game Friday, I’m starting to believe that AB will be just fine. He will never be 1st team NBA, but I don’t think he’s Kwame Brown either. I’m holding out hope for a poor man’s LJ. Although, the 8 fouls is a little concerning. Was he better with that on Sunday? I assume it will improve once the dust gets knocked off and he’s in playing shape, but you never know.

  • mgbode

    If you look at him sideways, then you are seeing 1/2 the man you would have seen last year ;)

  • RGB

    Addition through subtraction.
    Less pizzas = more points.
    :D

  • mgbode

    Summer league refs have ridiculous whistles. They call everything incredibly tight to knock it into rookies heads that they cannot hand-check, etc.

    The disconcerting thing to me (in both games) is that he’s getting caught flat-footed on defense. It looks like he is trying to anticipate where to rotate next on defense, but often is either wrong or self-corrects and then just sort of stands there “full foot” on the floor when he should stay up on his toes. He needs to watch how Wiggins does it (he has lots of work to do too, but he’s got the technical portions down very well).

  • mgbode

    the 100 on his shirt signifies the weight lost since this time last year working with Chris Powell (note who is a spokesman for below).

    http://www.vemma.com/bode/images/challenge-chris-powell.png

  • The_Real_Shamrock

    Me too he sounds like a players coach. A nice start but lets see how he actually coaches and how his players respond when it counts. But nice start. Certainly better then Mike Brown. I watched Hardwood Classics this weekend and man, Brown, ugh.

  • The_Real_Shamrock

    Summer league is a glorified pick up game that being said anything that gets Bennett and Wiggins on the court is aok with me.

  • The_Real_Shamrock

    Um Parker will be just fine trust me. He was playing a lot and doing a lot perhaps that’s why he was out of breath as well.

  • mgbode

    I think he will be okay as well. But, he is noticeably out of shape as was part of his scouting report and pre-draft reports. I doubt he shows up to October camp in the same shape, but the fact that we don’t have to worry about it is nice.

  • The_Real_Shamrock

    I still like Parker but obviously given the return of LBJ the choice of Wiggins made the most sense. That being said I stick by moving him if it means having the ability to land one of my favorite players in KLove. I’m biased tho. However if a deal doesn’t happen retaining Wiggins is a nice way to soften the loss of not getting KLove for me. Wiggins just needs time the fact that LBJ will be around while Wiggins learns makes me smile.

  • The_Real_Shamrock
  • mgbode

    the other side is Wiggins is cheap labor for at least 4 years whereas Love hurts the cap now.