We wrote about Anthony Bennett out of summer League — he showed having lost weight, ready to crash the boards and do the dirty work. He looked like an NBA player. Not one who was going to live up to the No. 1 pick millstone around his neck, but a guy you could give 15 minutes a night to.
Flip Saunders sees it that way, too.
For good reason it’s been billed as the Andrew Wiggins/Kevin Love trade, but Minnesota coach and team president spoke to Sid Hartman at the Star Tribune about the other guy coming in from Cleveland in Bennett.
“You look at him and he was drafted, had shoulder surgery, did not practice at all during the summertime, missed training camp, came in during the year and was diagnosed with sleep apnea and other things,” Saunders said. “He has lost 25 pounds, he’s working hard to get in shape. He’s an NBA player. He’s a guy that’s going to be a rotation-type player.”
As for the addition of Thaddeus Young, not only can he play but they want Young to be Crash Davis to Wiggins’ Ebby Calvin “Nuke” LaLoosh.
“The other thing is, going back I saw how [Kevin] Garnett developed, how [Stephon] Marbury developed, how [Wally] Szczerbiak developed, we always had mentors with those players. We had an older player that was playing, whether it was Sam Mitchell with Garnett, Terry Porter with Stephon — we always had somebody like that who that could show those guys what it is to be professional. Thaddeus Young is going to bring that for us, [point guard] Mo Williams is going to bring that for us. So I didn’t want to have all these young guys out there by themselves.”
Young is also an asset that can be flipped if contending or on the cusp of contending teams come calling.
Saunders did about as well out of this trade as could have been expected. He got a potential cornerstone piece in Wiggins. He got a quality veteran forward in Young. And if Bennett does become a rotation player, those are not all that easy to come by at his size.