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Current and past coaches talk Anthony Bennett

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NBA: Brooklyn Nets at Orlando Magic Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Anthony Bennett played 21 minutes Tuesday night in his hometown of Toronto and came away with a respectable stat line: eight points, 10 rebounds, a block and a steal. He shot poorly ... 25 percent overall and from deep.

It’s progress. Kenny Atkinson is playing him more and likes what he sees, as he told Doug Smith of the Toronto Star.

“I think the big thing with him is confidence,” Atkinson said. “The more he plays, the more comfortable he is, the better he plays. I hope we can keep this upward trend with him.”

Dwight Casey who coached Bennett in Toronto last season (until he got cut so Raps could sign Jason Thompson) says confidence is what’s needed. His advice to Bennett...

“Continue to enjoy the game and continue to work on his craft because he has every tool that you need to have to be a great player in this league, or a good player in this league, or to be able to survive in this league.

“He has every tool. I’m not in his head and don’t know where he is mentally but that would be my recommendation.”

Bennett has seen his playing time increase. Last season, in Toronto, Bennett played a total of 84 minutes with the big club, a lot more in the D-League. This season, he’s already been on the court for 243 minutes, three times last year’s total. Atkinson is giving him that time in batches. He even moved ahead of Luis Scola, his teammate and mentor, both in Toronto an Brooklyn.

In December, Bennett’s played him for more than 10 minutes for six straight games. He’s not setting the arena on fire, but there have been some sparks, Tuesday’s 10 rebounds, exceeded only by his 14 rebound game back on December 3 vs. the Bucks.

He’s hustled for rebounds and loose balls, stroked the three when the opportunity arises. Can he keep it up, then improve? The Nets don’t have to make a decision on whether to keep him until October 31, Opening Night of the 2017-18. So they’ll be patient. He can be secure as well.

Atkinson admits he sat down with Bennett recently and told him he needs more from him. He seemed to respond.

“Have fun playing the game that he loves, just keep working at it,” Casey added. “That is the hardest thing for young guys to understand. Being in the gym working on your game is not punishment. It’s for your benefit, it’s for your reward down the road.”

Like so many other things this season, we will have to wait-and-see.