Alex Wong, writing again for Vice Sports, profiles Anthony Bennett, touching on how he’s been the poster boy for draft busts everywhere since being taken overall No. 1 four seasons ago. But Wong also touches on something he believes is of equal importance as he begins his fourth season, Bennett’s rising confidence.
And, he suggests, one can lead to the erasure of the other.
Bennett, he writes, understandably lost confidence ... and lost his sense of joy, of fun. And he knew it. When he was waived by his hometown Raptors last spring, he got on a plane and flew to Las Vegas to work out with Impact Basketball, spening six weeks with trainer Drew Hanlen, going through three-hour daily workouts.
"I was talking shit to him, putting everything as a challenge," Hanlen said. "We kept jawing at him until he got his confidence,” said Hanlan. Then, it was onto Brooklyn for a tryout, then three weeks of workouts and time with Team Canada.
At the end of the process, Bennett had a two-year deal with the Nets, a new lease on his career.
"He got caught up in circumstances," coach Kenny Atkinson said. "I think him and us, we're both looking at it like this is a fresh opportunity."
Despite an uneven —some might say unimpressive— preseason, the Nets public stance has been all about enhancing that confidence, believing it will pay off.
“I look at AB and see how talented he is, see many things he can do,” Lopez told Andy Adler. “The sky’s the limit for him and we’re so excited to have him here. He has a chip on his shoulder and he can take advantage of this opportunity and show people what he can really do.”
Atkinson added, “Anthony Bennett is showing some real life as a rotation big, and he’s pushing for minutes. He did a lot of good things. He’s a system fit: He’s fast, he’s athletic, he’s long, he can roll to the rim, he can shoot. I’m tempering my enthusiasm, but I really like what we saw the other night. He really fits the modern NBA, runs the court.”
And perhaps most importantly, Wong writes, the Nets have assigned Luis Scola to work with Bennett, just as he did last season when both were with the Raptors. Their lockers at Barclays and HSS Training Center are next to each other.
"Sometimes being young is hard," Scola said.
Of course, the Nets would like a payoff. They’ve invested a lot in Bennett. He is exactly what they need to do to make up for lost picks.
“Nobody’s going to bat 1.000 [in scouting],” said Sean Marks. “Hopefully we’re batting somewhere close to it.”
What the Nets get from Bennett will affect that batting average.