Wolves Season in Review: Anthony Bennett

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This is Part Nine of the Wolves Season in Review player capsules. We’ll be looking at every player that finished the season on the Wolves roster, excluding ten-day contract signees. We’re starting with the players that played the fewest minutes and working our way up the roster to those that logged the most playing time. Today’s featured player is Anthony Bennett. 

When Anthony Bennett came to Minnesota last summer, he came into camp in the best shape of his life, determined to prove his worth as a first-overall pick, but things did not go according to plan.

The 2014-15 season was a disappointment for Bennett, who was hoping to rejuvenate his career with a bounce-back sophomore season. Unfortunately, due to the presence of Thaddeus Young and Adreian Payne, Bennett was unable to get steady playing time.

According to Kyle Ratke of Timberwolves.com, coach Flip Saunders was not a fan of Bennett:

"“Bennett was in and out of the lineup for much of the rest of the season due to two reasons.1.) He found himself in head coach Flip Saunders’ doghouse. A lot of this had to do with effort and Bennett taking three pointers, something Saunders doesn’t think is in Bennett’s arsenal… yet.2.) His injuries throughout the season always seem to come at the worst time. Ex. Bennett sprained his ankle right after the team traded away Thad Young, seemingly opening up the power forward position for grabs.”"

After 109 games in the NBA, Bennett has continued to look inept on both sides of the ball, making it hard to understand why anyone would think Bennett was deserving of a first-overall pick. According to 82games.com, the Wolves were 5.6 points worse on offense and 6.7 points worse on defense with Bennett on the floor, giving him a net rating of -12.3 points per 48 minutes.

Unfortunately, Bennett may be a loss cause on defense. Due to his height (6’8”), he’s too small to play the power forward position, and he’s too slow to be a three, leaving Bennett in some awkward limbo. However, there is room for improvement on offense. Bennett’s big problem this year offensively was his terrible shot selection. According to Basketball-Reference, Bennett took most of his shots from right inside the three-point line, also known as the most inefficient shot a player can take.

Anthony Bennett 2014 Shot Chart vs. League Average

As seen in Bennett’s 2014-15 shot chart, courtesy of Vorped.com, Bennett shot below the league average almost everywhere on the court, especially from midrange. Bennett should learn from Atlanta Hawks power forward Paul Millsap, who began his career taking only three three-point attempts in his rookie season to averaging over 200 long range shots per season over the last two years.

Chris Bosh is another example of a big man who vastly improved his efficiency by extending his midrange shot to beyond the arc.

Bennett is arguably the biggest bust in NBA history, but he did show some progress from Cleveland to Minnesota. From his rookie season to his sophomore season, Bennett increased his points per game, rebounds per game, field goal percentage and three point shooting percentage. He also raised his player efficiency rating from 6.9 to 11.4 (both of which are still under the league average of 15).

His numbers aren’t very good, but he did have a few big games. On November 21, in a 121-92 loss to the San Antonio Spurs, Bennett recorded a career high 20 points, while shooting 9-of-14 from the floor.

Bennett has shown slight improvement but it might not be enough for the Wolves to pick up his 2015-16 option, which would guarantee Bennett $5.8 million, per sportrac.com.

After the Wolves traded a potential first-round pick for Adreian Payne and trading Thaddeus Young for Kevin Garnett, it doesn’t make very much sense to pay Bennett that much money just to play 15 minutes a night. He can be a solid role player off the bench, but he’s not worth $5.8 million.

Bennett’s sophomore season was better than his rookie season, but many Wolves fans expected more from the man nicknamed “Big Daddy Canada.” Due to Bennett’s contract, and his inability to stay healthy, it looks like he may have played his last game in a Wolves uniform.

Follow me on Twitter: @JosephZapataIII

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