A second chance

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Raffy Ledesma

Raffy Ledesma

Forward Anthony Bennett made history when he became the first Canadian to be the No. 1 draft pick back in 2013. However, Bennett had a disappointing start to his NBA career with the Cleveland Cavaliers playing in only 57 games in 2013-2014 averaging a measly 4.2 points and 3 rebounds. He was traded to the Minnesota Timberwolves last season as part of the deal that sent Kevin Love to the Cavs. Despite a little more playing time, he failed to make waves with averages close to his first season performance.

Injuries and lack of conditioning gave him an early and unfair reputation of being a “bust,” a player who would not and could not live up to lofty expectations.

He was immediately likened to Kwame Brown; a former No.1 pick considered one of the worst busts in NBA draft history. Like Bennett, he made history in the 2002 draft as the first No.1 pick straight out of high school. Picked by no less than NBA great Michael Jordan for the Washington Wizards, Brown had the raw talent but his “immaturity and attitude” stopped him from reaching his full potential. As a result, he played in 7 teams over 13 seasons.

Like all No. 1 picks, Bennett had unfair expectations put upon him in a draft class considered among the worst in recent memory. In the class of 2013, no one has yet to be chosen for the All-Star team and none look to be future Hall-of-Famers. The best players so far come are Victor Olapido and Rudy Gobert, good but not franchise altering.


Bennett’s story is really being chosen first because the top pick got seriously hurt (Nerlens Noel) and the Cavs took a long shot which didn’t pan out. He is also a “tweener” meaning he is considered too small to bang versus the bigger power forwards but doesn’t have the range and outside game expected of small forwards.

Recently, Bennett’s contract was bought out by the Timber¬wolves and he was acquired by his hometown Toronto Raptors. Here in his 3rd team in 3 years, he is looking forward to a fresh start in a place he is familiar with. With the Raptors, there is no pressure for him to be the No. 1 pick, to be the main guy. There are other “stars” in the team so he has a chance to grow as a player and further hone his raw athleticism.

Raptors general manager Masai Ujiri has a great reputation for developing players and he stated that Bennett would finally have a chance to become a player in Toronto.

To ensure he turns his career around, Bennett reportedly improved his physical conditioning over the summer. He also played a key role with the Canadian National Team in the FIBA Americas and Pan-Am Games recently. Bennett’s stint with the Raptors will make or break his young career. There are no more second chances after this.

raffyrledesma@petron.com

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