You can call it “Small Sample Size Theater,” but on Friday night, Anthony Bennett had his best NBA outing in two years. He scored 12 points in 21 minutes, hitting 2-of-4 from deep and showing off a neat, eyebrow-raising post move as well.
Here’s his highlights, edited by Down-to-Buck, one of NBA fandom’s great showcases.
It was his second decent enough performance in three games. Two games ago, Bennett had seven points and nine rebounds in 26 minutes of garbage time vs. the Clippers. Slowly, Kenny Atkinson is giving him more time, more confidence.
As Donny Marshall noted on YES, “Minutes may just be what Bennett needs. Not just to play physically but mentally.”
Indeed, the last time Bennett scored more than a dozen points and grabbed more than nine in an NBA game was January 7, 2015, when he put up 14 points and 10 rebounds vs. the Suns. It was games like that in 2015 (and yes, like the two this week) that gave fans, coaches, staff and teammates hope that the overall No. 1 pick in 2013 could produce. But the hope has not (yet) panned out.
Will Atkinson’s confidence hold up? Will the head coach continue play him ahead of Luis Scola (who coincidentally has been Bennett’s mentor in Toronto and here)? Sounds like it.
“It was just an opportunity [for him],” the coach told Sarah Kustok post-game. “We look at practice and we look at how he’s been working, how he’s been doing and I felt like he deserved an opportunity. I thought he did a darn good job. That’s a really good positive about tonight. Not just shooting the three. I thought he attacked the rim. I thought he made some tough moves in the paint.
“That’s a real good sign for the Nets.”
It would be a good sign for Atkinson, too. He’s the one who pushed the Nets into taking a look at Bennett. If their Nets’ faith in the 23-year-old produces results, it will be a great move. They’ve devoted a lot of development resources to him. So like a lot of things this season, we will wait and see.