Washington Wizards Won’t Pursue Anthony Bennett, But They Should


Why the Washington Wizards Should Pursue Anthony Bennett

Anthony Bennett, so far, has probably been the worst number one pick in NBA Draft history. The Canadian forward was a projected lottery pick coming out of UNLV in 2013, but the Cleveland Cavaliers gambled and took him first overall. Obviously, things haven’t gone according to plan.

Bennett struggled early in his rookie season with Cleveland following a couple of solid performances during preseason. Immediately, his confidence was shot and he never bounced back. Pundits noted his health issues and inability to stay in game-shape.

Cleveland hoped that Bennett’s versatility would make him a great fit along side Kyrie Irving and Dion Waiters, but his inconsistency pretty much ruined his chances of ever sticking with the core.

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He was eventually traded along with Andrew Wiggins to the Minnesota Timberwolves for Kevin Love.

In hindsight, one could argue that Minnesota “won” that trade. But, even if that’s the case, it’s pretty clear that Bennett never really fit into their plans neither.

Minnesota already had a big man rotation that was comprised of players that established themselves.

Next season, Minnesota will have their first pick Karl-Anthony Towns become adjusted to the next level, but they’ll also have Adreian Payne, Nikola Pekovic, Kevin Garnett and newly acquired Nemanja Bjelica compete for playing time.

With that said, the Wolves decided to reach a buyout with Bennett today, allowing him to find a team that could actually use his services.

Today, a couple of teams were rumored to be interested in signing Anthony Bennett and the Washington Wizards were not included:

Along with the Portland Trail Blazers, the Philadelphia 76ers and Toronto Raptors were also reportedly interested in signing Bennett.

At this point, I think we can all assume that Anthony Bennett will not be landing with the Washington Wizards. First off, the Wizards already have 15 players under guaranteed contracts. For them to sign Bennett as a free agent, they would have to waive or trade a player who’s already on the roster.

But, should that stop them from pursuing a player that many believed would end up in the nation’s capital during draft night?

Bennett, who’s only 22-years-old, still has all of the necessary tools to contribute in the NBA. Let’s forget about the fact that he’s been terrible so far in his career.

The teams that he’s played for haven’t been the most stable. Cleveland was a disaster prior to LeBron James‘ return and the Wolves haven’t made the NBA Playoffs since President Abraham Lincoln was in office.

Is Bennett a flawed player? Sure. He doesn’t knock down the outside shot consistently enough to be labeled a true stretch four. He lacks the quickness to guard small forwards, making him a tweener — and we all know those players rarely succeed in the NBA.

However, Bennett did show some promise with the Canadian national team this summer, and at the very least, he has a ton of potential. After all, he’s just 22-years-old.

Bennett needs to land with a team that will give him confidence. The Washington Wizards still aren’t considered among the best teams in the league, but in terms of getting the most out of their players, the franchise has done pretty well over the past few seasons.

John Wall, in particular, is fantastic at turning trash into treasure.

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When Rasual Butler battled to keep his NBA career alive last year, he lit the league on fire during the first half of the season.

Wall’s passing coupled with Butler’s shooting made him a regular rotation player.

We could also note how well Martell Webster played when he got a one year deal worth the league minimum from the Washington Wizards a few years ago.

Wall helped revitalize his career the same way he did with Butler. Trevor Ariza had a career season in Washington, too. The list goes on and on.

Washington does not have a young big man on their roster anymore. Kevin Seraphin is gone and they’re left with players who are in the latter halves of their respective careers. Even if Bennett never lives up to his draft selection, he can still become a valuable piece for the future.

With Wall, Bradley Beal, Otto Porter, Kelly Oubre, Tomas Satoransky and Bennett, the Washington Wizards could have the most intriguing young core in the Eastern Conference.

And perhaps most importantly, Bennett has some skills that Washington could use.

They addressed their need for a stretch four with Jared Dudley, but he’ll be out for at least a few weeks to start the season. Drew Gooden isn’t getting any younger, neither. Simply put, the Wizards don’t have many options at the front court positions.

Bennett would have an opportunity to play along side the best passer in the NBA and players that will give him the confidence to succeed. I’m not certain that Randy Wittman is necessarily the best coach for Bennett, but the players around him matter more. He’s never been in a winning situation and needs stability. The Washington Wizards could provide that.

The Wizards have a number of players on their roster that probably won’t get to play much. DeJuan Blair is not in the franchise’s plans in the future, so would it truly be that big of a deal to replace him with a project like Bennett?

Ernie Grunfeld probably won’t pursue Bennett, but he’s worth the shot. He’s versatile, can run the floor and he has upside as a stretch four. All of those things would make him a solid fit in D.C.

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