Last month, Anthony Bennett was bought out by the Timberwolves and signed with his hometown Raptors for the minimum. It was just the latest chapter in the sad story of a former No. 1 pick struggling to prove he belongs in the NBA. But since getting to Toronto, all the talk has been that he’s comfortable and isn’t focused on the pressure that comes with where he was drafted, and the Raptors want to move past it.
From Yahoo’s Marc Spears:
Raptors coach Dwane Casey says Bennett reminds him of Los Angeles Lakers forward Brandon Bass, who he coached with the Dallas Mavericks, and is impressive defensively. Casey doesn’t plan to use him at small forward.
“He came in refreshed a little bit,” Casey said. “The [pressure] is off. Just come in and play basketball. There are no expectations. We don’t expect him to come in and be the so-called No. 1 pick. Coming back to Toronto having to live up to that, I thought that would be the biggest hurdle. It hasn’t been.
“All that pressure has been lifted by being bought out, almost hitting rock bottom so to speak. Now he’s getting another chance to come out and play.”
At this point, nobody’s expecting Bennett to produce like a typical No. 1 draft pick. That ship has sailed. Even just proving he’s a rotation player would be a win for him. And being at home in Toronto, where he isn’t the focal point of the roster, is a perfect spot to do that.