Cavs' Bennett gets support from vital source: His coach
NOV 20, 2013 1:38a ET
Brown is the Cavaliers’ coach, Bennett the rookie forward and No. 1 overall draft pick.
Brown wants Bennett to succeed. Bennett likely wants Bennett to succeed even more. Brown has said there’s no pressure on Bennett -- at least, not from Brown's or the Cavs’ standpoint. It’s more pressure from outside sources, fans and media and players on opposing teams who wonder if Bennett can live up to some grand expectations.
And of course, there’s the pressure Bennett certainly places on himself.
Right now, the results aren’t good.
Bennett has made just five of 35 shots on the season. He’s averaging 1.4 points and 2.4 rebounds. He’s passed for just three assists. He failed to get off the bench for the first time in the Cavs’ previous game, a win at Washington.
To say Bennett is laboring would be the gentle approach.
But the gentle approach is the one Brown has chosen. Because, and this is very clear, the rookie has a believer in his coach.
“The guy is 20 years old,” Brown said. “He played one year of college (at UNLV). I saw it live, and on tape, and I saw some flashes here.”
Brown is talking about Bennett’s explosiveness, his upside, his promise as a power forward in a league filled with talent at that very position.
Brown has seen all of that recently, too -- saying Bennett’s two best practices came in the past two days.
Still, there’s a chance no one else will see Bennett when the Cavs (4-7) again face the Wizards on Wednesday night at The Q (7 p.m., FOX Sports Ohio). He may have fallen out of the rotation.
The Cavs are coming off a win, they played fairly well getting it, and the team’s confidence comes before any one individual’s. So the guys who Brown believes give the team its best chance to win will play. Those guys tend to be veterans.
“The hard part about it, while trying to build someone’s confidence, is you want to try to win some ballgames,” Brown said about balancing the concept of winning and Bennett’s development. “You probably won’t win all of them, but you want to try to stay in contention and keep (his) confidence a little bit, and so on and so forth.”
Bennett is also in a different situation than most rookies. For one, he’s backing up another young power forward, as Tristan Thompson is in just his third season. Thompson has stepped up his game since the middle of last year.
Also, Bennett isn’t afforded the consistent minutes of some other rookies -- part of that has been Bennett’s fault, yes. But part of it is because of the frontcourt in which he was placed.
And it’s not like Bennett is alone. Of the 30 first-round picks, only Philadelphia point guard Michael Carter-Williams has been a regular starter. And Carter-Williams was drafted 11th overall.
The Cavs have shielded Bennett a little bit, attempting to keep him out of the limelight as he goes through the process of learning the pro game. It’s a wise strategy.
Still, Bennett was the first overall pick. Like it or not, all eyes are on him when it comes to this year's rookie class. Brown gets that.
“With social media today, everybody from inside to outside wants things to happen yesterday,” Brown said. “It’s no different for AB. He was the No. 1 pick. Everyone expects him to average 20 (points) and 15 (rebounds), right now. But there’s a patience factor that we’re gonna have, that I’m able to have, with him.”
And despite the early struggles, Brown believes patience with Bennett is the best course to follow.
“In time, you guys will be able to see how good he is,” Brown said.
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