Tag: Anthony Bennett

Men's basketball, Semi final round action,

Anthony Bennett has looked good playing for Canada. Will that carry over to NBA?


Canada opens its FIBA Americas play today (Tuesday) taking on Argentina, in what should be one of the more attractive Group B matches in the tournament. It’s a game of contrasts. Argentina is the old guard, they have had international success — gold at the 2004 Olympics — but their golden generation has aged out (Manu Ginobili isn’t playing for them, for example). Canada is the young team on the rise, a squad loaded with young NBA talent — Andrew Wiggins, Andrew Nicholson, Cory Joseph, Nik Stauskas, Kelly Olynyk, Dwight Powell, and…

Anthony Bennett.

The former No. 1 pick, a guy panned as a bust, has looked good for Canada in warmups for the tournament. He was a starter and key part of Canada winning the FIBA Americas’ tuneup event, the Tuto Marchand Continental Cup. Against Brazil, he scored 11 straight points and finished with 16 points in 15 minutes in that tournament.

He was asked about what is different after that win, as reported by Josh Lewenberg at TSN.

“[I’m] just playing with confidence, pretty much,” the 22-year-old forward responded. “Just going out there, playing defense, running the court. Just doing the little things first and trying to make offense come to me.”

“Anthony has been exemplary this summer,” said (Canada GM Steve) Nash, the two-time NBA MVP and future hall of fame point guard. “He’s had a tough first two years in the league but his attitude’s been amazing. His talent has never been in question but his attitude, willingness to learn and attention to detail… not that his attitude was ever an issue, but for him to come, to play in the Pan Am Games, to partake in a whole summer with us, it shows he has a real willingness to learn and get better and a want to be a great player.”

Bennett is also healthy, which has not happened a lot through his first two years in the NBA, and those injuries impacted his conditioning.

The question is, can Bennett bring this same level of play to Minnesota next season?

Bennett has had moments where he’s looked improved before — 2014 Summer League, for example — but it hasn’t translated once the NBA tipped off. Bennett was better last season in Minnesota than he was as a rookie, but he still needs to make strides to become a regular rotation player an improving Timberwolves team can count on.

That’s the ceiling for Bennett, it seem — solid rotation player. That’s nowhere near what is expected out of a No. 1 pick, but that anchor around him is more about Cleveland’s misread than it is Bennett’s game (notice the Cavs changed GMs). Bennett is what he is.

Canadian coach Jay Triano told Bennett to simplify the game — find a thing or two you’re good at and focus on doing those things exceptionally well. Crash the boards, run the floor. Everything else will fall into place.

If it falls into place for the Timberwolves, it will be one more piece in their puzzle.

Canada cuts Olivier Hanlan, finalizes roster FIBA Americas with nine NBA players

Andrew Wiggins, Cory Joseph

The Jazz drafted Olivier Hanlan No. 42, but they didn’t have a roster spot for him this season. So, the former Boston College guard signed in Lithuania.

Team Canada apparently didn’t have room for him, either.

Canada announced its roster for FIBA Americas, and Hanlan was the final cut.

It’s remarkable that Canada can afford to drop a player drafted to the NBA, but the country’s basketball team has come a long way in a short time. The Canadians will have nine NBA players:

  • Andrew Wiggins
  • Cory Joseph
  • Kelly Olynyk
  • Anthony Bennett
  • Nik Stauskas
  • Robert Sacre
  • Andrew Nicholson
  • Dwight Powell
  • Melvin Ejim

Aaron Doornekamp, Phil Scrubb and Brady Heslip round out the 12-man roster.

The top two teams in FIBA Americas – besides Brazil, which got an automatic bid as host nation – will qualify for the 2016 Rio Olympics. The next three teams, again excluding Brazil, advance to the Olympic Qualifying Tournament.

Canada is definitely a threat this year and next. With such a young team, its future might be even brighter.

Maybe with a little seasoning, Hanlan will eventually make the squad.

Then again, he’ll also have to fend off the next generation of Canadian basketballers, players like Trey Lyles and Jamal Murray.

A few years ago, it would have seemed incomprehensible Canada could afford to cut a player drafted by an NBA team.

Soon, Canada might form its roster completely from NBA players.

Timberwolves still trying to shop Anthony Bennett, still finding no takers

Milwaukee Bucks v Minnesota Timberwolves

Back right before the draft, we told you the Minnesota Timberwolves were shopping Anthony Bennett.

It’s heading toward the end of August and Bennett is still with the Timberwolves.

They would still like to move him, but there are no takers, reports Jon Krawczynski of the Associated Press:

This should not be a surprise. The former No. 1 pick of the Cleveland Cavaliers has not developed like a top pick is expected to — last season he got in 57 games for the Timberwolves, scored 5.2 points a game when he did, he had a well below average 45.8 percent true shooting percentage and a PER of 11.4. If he were the 14th pick in the draft, we’d be thinking maybe he can evolve into a solid bench player in a couple of years in the right development system.

The problem is he is getting paid like a No 1 pick — $5.8 million this season, with a team option for $7.3 million for 2016-17 that must be exercised by the end of this October. No team would pick up that option. So essentially a team has to want to trade for him as a rental at the price of the mid-level exception, even though he at best can give them limited minutes off the bench.

Which is to say, good luck moving him Flip Saunders without throwing in some sweeteners (future picks). Maybe you’ll have better luck near the trade deadline. Maybe. But probably not.

Report: Timberwolves sign Tayshaun Prince

Boston Celtics v Minnesota Timberwolves

The Timberwolves re-signed Kevin Garnett and signed Andre Miller.

Enough veteran leadership on the young team?

Not for Flip Saunders.

Marc J. Spears of Yahoo Sports:

Saunders coached Tayshaun Prince on the Pistons, but that was a long time ago. Prince, 35, is an even more methodical player and no longer an elite wing defender.

Still, his length and intelligence make him a capable defender. He can make jumpers, too, and he’s a solid passer for his position (though he bogs down the offense with the ball in his hands).

Prince played reasonably well for the Celtics and Pistons last season after the Grizzlies traded him, so he might have a little juice left. He was in over his head in Memphis, often starting for a fringe contender.

That shouldn’t be the case in Minnesota. He’ll fill a limited role, provide a good example for the team’s younger players and sometimes take minutes that slow the development of Shabazz Muhammad, Anthony Bennett and Nemanja Bjelica. (Andrew Wiggins is getting the same playing time regardless.)

There’s an outside but realistic chance the Timberwolves can compete for a playoff spot. For that reason, signing Prince makes sense. Minnesota wouldn’t want to find out later it was a veteran on the wing away from the postseason. If the Timberwolves fall from the race, Saunders can always turn more toward developing younger players.

Prince gives Minnesota 17 players – two more than the regular-season roster limit. The most likely cuts are Lorenzo Brown ($75,000 guaranteed) and Damjan Rudez (acquired in the Chase Budinger salary dump). Perhaps, the Timberwolves can trade Rudez and get something for him or deal another player in a more significant move. But they have to do something to trim the roster.

Ricky Rubio on Timberwolves: ‘I have to go pull this team in the playoffs’

Minnesota Timberwolves v Toronto Raptors

Kevin Garnett is the Timberwolves’ most-accomplished player.

Andre Miller is their oldest player.

Andrew Wiggins and Karl-Anthony Towns are their most-important players.

But on any team, leadership naturally falls to the starting point guard and highest-paid player. Ricky Rubio, who fills both titles in Minnesota, is embracing that role.

Rubio, via Ben Golliver of Sports Illustrated:

“We know we’re young and we’re building,” Rubio told SI.com in a phone interview. “At the same time, I think we’re ready to win games. Last season we only won 16 games but it didn’t feel like we were a losing team at all. We were just lacking some things. Me personally, I have to go pull this team in the playoffs. I know it’s a big challenge, but I think we have the right assets, the right weapons to get it. I know we’re in the West side, it’s really tough, but I think we can make it happen. I have big expectations for next season.”

I don’t think it’s completely outlandish to suggest the Timberwolves could make the playoffs. They’re loaded with talent at every position:

  • Point guard: Rubio, Miller, Tyus Jones
  • Shooting guard: Kevin Martin, Zach LaVine
  • Small forward: Andrew Wiggins, Shabazz Muhammad, Nemanja Bjelica
  • Power forward: Kevin Garnett, Gorgui Dieng, Adreian Payne, Anthony Bennett
  • Center: Karl-Anthony Towns, Nikola Pekovic

That is one heck of the depth chart.

But there are three major reasons Minnesota won’t make the playoffs:

1. Youth. As talented as those players are, many of them are still very young. They’ll probably need more time to develop and learn how to do the little things necessary to win.

2. Fit. Too many Timberwolves prefer to operate in the same areas of the court. They just don’t have enough floor spacers.

3.  Western Conference. It’s darn good.

Rubio could help, though. He’s reaching the age where he should take the next step. And a nifty passer, he could mitigate Minnesota’s spacing issues. He’ll have no shortage of talented players to throw passes. He’s the crux.

The Timberwolves probably won’t reach the postseason, but if they do, it very well could be because Rubio pulled them there.