Kenny Atkinson knows all about the Nets draft situation —no control over their own first rounder until 2019, their own second rounder until 2021. He also knows the solution.
“Every guy we’ve signed for whatever reason, we’ve got to turn into a really good first-round pick. That’s the way we look at it,” Atkinson said, then referred to the 2013 trade with the Celtics. “That [trade] is part of the past and it never really enters my mind.”
But as Fred Kerber notes, the same cannot be said of the team’s fans. “That’s why Billy King VooDoo Doll (makes a great holiday gift) gets repeatedly stuck by fans’ pins.”
So, players like Anthony Bennett, the one-time overall pick, are the new coin of the realm for Sean Marks and his front office, players who might fill the vault left empty by King.
The 6’8” Bennett just had his best week in two years. In 52 minutes over three games, he scored 24 points, grabbed 14 rebounds and looked, well, confident, and that is the key, Atkinson and Bennett agree.
“He’s shown the staff, some real positive things — rebounding the ball which is a weakness for us. He has the ability on offense to make the 3. He can play pick-and-roll. He’s pretty versatile. We’re going to have to look [for ways] to get him in,” Atkinson told Kerber.
“His work ethic has been fantastic. … A lot with Anthony is confidence. Going through all he went through, we’re in the process of building him up. Keep building him up and saying, ‘You’re a darn good player and you’ve got a future in this league.’ ”
“The coaches are always encouraging me,” Bennett added. “They say they like my game, so I’ve just go to improve every day. I’m in a good situation. People doubted me, said I lacked skill. I’m just trying to stay consistent, use my minutes wisely and do what I can with the opportunity. Coming in, I was too young.”
Others on the team have noticed it as well, and believe they can help Bennett regain confidence. ““I like what he’s shown when he gets a chance, he’s ready to take it. He’s shown what he worked on the whole offseason. He’s prepared,” said Brook Lopez.
The Nets are willing to give Bennett, now 23, time. They have plenty of it.
- No. 1 pick in 2013 NBA draft finding a home with Nets - Fred Kerber - New York Post