The G-League affiliates of the Boston Celtics, the Maine Red Claws, have sensationally traded for the 2013 NBA Draft number one pick Anthony Bennett from the Northern Arizona Suns.
Bennett, the 24-year-old Power Forward out of Canada, was the taken first by the Cleveland Cavaliers after one season of college ball for UNLV, averaging 16 points per game with 8 rebounds in 27 minutes. Bennett played 52 games for the Cavaliers in his rookie season averaging 4.2 points and 3.0 rebounds in an average of 12.8 minutes per game.
Bennett was traded at the end of that season to the Minnesota Timberwolves as part of a three-team trade which saw Andrew Wiggins finding a home in Minnesota and Kevin Love in Cleveland which paved the way for LeBron James to return and ultimately capture the NBA Championship a season later.
Bennett spent a season in Minnesota before being waived, averaging 5.2 points and 3.8 rebounds in an average of 15.7 minutes per game in 57 games and 3 starts. Bennett was quickly snapped up by the Toronto Raptors and would spend the next six months bouncing between the Raptors and their G-League affiliate the 905 before being waived in March 2016. In July 2016 the Nets signed Bennett and would bounce between the NBA and the G-League before being waved in January this year.
Bennett in his time with the Raptors and the Nets 42 games in the NBA, starting just once, for Brooklyn. Bennett moved to Turkey, to play for Fenerbahce in the Euroleague, the highest level of Basketball in Europe, playing 10 matches averaging 1.2 points per game in 6.2 minutes per game. Bennett tasted his first success of his professional career as Fenerbahce won their first Euroleague title defeating Greek Giants Olympiacos 80-62, with Bennett contributing 0 points, 0 rebounds, 0 assists and 0 of anything else in 72 seconds of basketball. Bennett was cut from the team in May.
Bennett is making a run at returning the to NBA, having signed a contract with the Phoenix Sun in September. The Suns cut him within a month but he signed with their G-League affiliate in Northern Arizona. Bennett was averaging 11.7 points per game and 5.6 rebounds per game in 14 games for the Northern Arizona Suns prior to his trade for the rights to Wesley Saunders, and a pick swap of the Suns’ third-round 2018 pick and Maine’s second round 2018 pick.
Red Claws fans will be unlikely to see Bennett make his debut against Grand Rapids as he is yet to pass his physical examination, but could debut against Lakeside at home on New Year’s Eve.
Boston Celtic fans will be wondering whether GM Danny Ainge will be looking towards Bennett as a call up to the NBA side. The idea of Bennett joining the side with the most wins in the NBA is bizarre, but if anyone could make a success out of Bennett it would be Danny Ainge, the best GM in basketball, and Brad Stevens, arguably the best coach in the NBA.
Given Bennett’s past failings in the NBA and his utter failure to perform in Europe (especially compared with Gigi Datome, a former Boston Celtic, who averaged 9.2 PPG and was a major part of Fenerbahce’s success in Euroleague) it is hard to conceive of any reason he would be called up to the main roster, especially in place of the big men talent at the disposal of Ainge and Stevens.
Bennett has shown himself in his short NBA career to be a lazy player and a terrible defender who has not translated his polished scoring threat from College into the pro ranks. In short, Bennett doesn’t score enough points, grab enough rebounds and doesn’t defend.
We will watch with immense interest as to his progress in the G-League with the Red Claws and see if he raises his game to dominate the league, only then could it be conceivable that he would get minutes in Boston. Until he is able to do that, he will continue to be labelled one of the biggest busts in NBA history.