NEWS OF THE MORNING
No. 1: The reinvention of Anthony Bennett is real — Anthony Bennett‘s summer has been one positive step after another, as the former No. 1 overall pick works to reinvent himself and prove that he’s not the “bust” some have labeled him. His work with Team Canada has only bolstered his cause. He’s been a bit of a revelation during the FIBA Americas tournament, playing a vital role on his national team, as Ryan Wolstat of the Toronto Sun writes:
Anthony Bennett didn’t have the loudest stat-line, but Canada’s resurgent star continues to be a key contributor for the squad.
Bennett quickly earned the confidence of head coach Jay Triano at training camp, was perhaps the best performer at the Pan Am Games in Toronto and was solid in Puerto Rico, before faring well here as well.
“I think Anthony Bennett’s summer has been absolutely fantastic for us,” Triano said after Canada defeated Panama on Sunday.
“He’s engaged in everything that we do on the floor, off the floor, rebounding. We’ve asked him to rebound, and he’s done it on a continuous basis. He runs the floor on a continuous basis. He provides help on the defensive end. He understands our defensive system.”
Confidence is important to Bennett and with Triano letting him just go out and play, he seems relaxed and is having fun. He looked relaxed before the game, throwing down a self-alley-oop reverse dunk in the layup line, and kept going from there.
“Coach was saying, ‘just line ’em up and knock ’em down,’ ” Bennett said.
“This is definitely a fun tournament to play in. A lot of competition, different teams, different styles so you’ve just got to adjust.”
Triano is pleased for the former No. 1 overall draft pick, who has had a tough first couple of NBA seasons.
“We told him earlier this summer if you do those things people are going to understand he’s got a lot of other offensive skills,” Triano said.
“His ability to pass the basketball, his ability to get teammates open. I’m really happy for him as an individual and we need him to continue to play that way.”
No. 2: Minute reductions for LeBron, Kyrie — The workload LeBron James and Kyrie Irving put in during their first season together in Cleveland won’t look the same this time around, and that’s not just because Kyrie might not be available until January due to injury. It’s time for a reduction in minutes for both of the Cavaliers’ stars, according to Terry Pluto of the Plain Dealer:
There was a report about Kyrie Irving not being ready to play until January.
No one knows for sure, as Irving is recovering from surgery to repair a fractured knee cap. But the Cavs do expect him to play well before January. Of course, that can change once they see him in training camp.
Even if Irving’s knee is in excellent shape, they plan to cut his minutes early in the season. He ranked No. 3 in average minutes per game last season. LeBron James was No. 5. I recently wrote about this.
That’s too much for both players during the regular season.
The Cavs signed veteran Mo Williams, who has started 511 games in the NBA. That includes 33 at point guard last season. He averaged 14 points and can take some of the scoring load off Irving in the backcourt.
The Cavs also have Matthew Dellavedova coming back. So they have Williams and Dellavedova to help out at point guard, allowing Irving to miss some games. He also can play fewer minutes.
The re-signing of J.R. Smith should help the Cavs cut the minutes for James during the regular season. The 6-foot-6 Smith can play both shooting guard and small forward.
No. 3: White ready to take his place in the Hall of Fame — Jo Jo White has had Hall of Fame credentials for years, but only now is the former Boston Celtics great taking his rightful place alongside other Celtics greats in Springfield. Even though the honor seems long overdue, White is appreciative that his time has finally come. Gary Washburn of the Boston Globe explains:
In playing in seven All-Star Games, being named MVP of the 1976 NBA Finals, and with a franchise-record 488 consecutive games played for the Celtics, White possessed Hall of Fame credentials. But it appears the Naismith committee has been slow to embrace some players from the 1970s who were perhaps overshadowed by the likes of Julius Erving, George Gervin, and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar.
Although White’s accomplishments in the game have always been greatly appreciated in Boston, it has taken years for others to recognize his career as more than just above average.
“I’m just excited and I loved playing sports,” White said. “To touch the athletes you’ve played with, coaches that you had to deal with, and you find you’re getting very, very close to the team that you’re working with. What I’ve went through as a player, I’m just excited.
“I’m still rejoicing from where I’ve gone to where I am to what I had to go through to get where I am. I’ve gone through it.”
No. 4: Is Bradley Beal worth the max? — The Washington Wizards will have to figure out an answer to that question soon enough. A maxed out backcourt tandem of All-Star point guard John Wall and the sweet-shooting Beal could be on the horizon for a team with grand designs of climbing the ladder in the Eastern Conference in the coming seasons. Moke Hamilton of Basketball Insiders ponders the question a full summer ahead of time:
In all likelihood, Beal, whom the Wizards can make a restricted free agent next summer, will command a maximum offer sheet from some team at that time. Quite a few teams will have truckloads of cap space and can have a Brinks truck arrive at the residence of Beal at 12:01 a.m. on July 1, 2016. Until that time, though, since the Wizards will have the right of first refusal, it makes sense for them to wait—just like the Warriors did with Green, just like the Chicago Bulls did with Jimmy Butler and just like the San Antonio Spurs did with Kawhi Leonard.
Make no mistake about it, though, Beal is a maximum player in today’s NBA. That is true despite the fact that he has never played as many as 75 games in any one of his three seasons. It is also true despite the defensive ineptitude that he has shown on a fairly consistent basis over the course of his young career. And yes, it is true despite the fact that he has not consistently shown that he can impact the game on multiple fronts. Above all, he is regarded as a strong offensive player and a deadly three-point shooter (his career three-point conversation rate is about 42 percent). His ability to create his own shot has improved tremendously, and, still at just 22 years old, he is nowhere near his physical prime. As he ages and matures, he will only get better.
Indeed, in today’s NBA, contract impasses are nothing extraordinary. But as it relates to Beal, with his upside, his production thus far and the influx of money that the NBA will see over the next few years, even a blind man can see that this movie ends the same way as the ones we have just witnessed.
In Washington, D.C. or elsewhere, Beal is a maximum player. Drawing that conclusion is the easy part. The difficult part, for the Wizards, is determining whether or not he will fulfill the lofty expectations that such a contract would yield and whether they want to be the team to roll the dice on him.
But best believe, in today’s NBA, someone will.
SOME RANDOM HEADLINES: Jahlil Okafor is ready to tote the load for the Philadelphia 76ers … The players had a huge hand in the look and design of the Hawks’ new uniforms … Kyle Lowry chats about his summer slim down … Dwyane Wade was in attendance for one of the craziest games on college football’s kickoff weekend …
ICYMI: The Sixers have good reason to be excited about Nerlens Noel: