Anthony Bennett’s time in Minnesota could be set to come to an end after just one season, with the former number-one draft set to leave the Timberwolves during the offseason. On the back of a dismal season for both Bennett and Minnesota, the arrival of a new number-one draft selection in the shape of Kentucky sensation Karl-Anthony Towns, the 2013 top pick appears set to be packing his bags again and leaving the Gopher State. There won’t be many Timberwolves fans overly upset at the thought of losing the 22-year-old. Having brought Bennett to Minnesota last summer alongside Andrew Wiggins with Kevin Love heading the other way to the Cleveland Cavaliers, the arrival of Towns and Adreian Payne has added more options to an already-stacked frontcourt.
Despite his longer run in the team, Bennett ended the season averaging just 15.7 minutes compared to Payne’s 24.8 minutes from 29 appearances. While the Timberwolves fans seemed to have given up on Bennett a long time before the end of a season in which the franchise suffered a league-worst 66 defeats, it now looks as though the Minnesota management are also ready to throw the towel in on the youngster. The forward hasn’t shone in any area of the court during his brief time with the Timberwolves, in particular when it comes to his shooting, averaging just 5.2 points per game with 3.4 rebounds. While improvements on his rookie season’s stats with the Cavaliers, Bennett’s figures haven’t been anywhere near the levels a number-one draft pick should be registering.
Bennett’s NBA career has gone downhill ever since being picked first overall in the 2013 draft by the Cavaliers. After tearing his labrum at the start of the his first pre-season, the forward was always playing catch-up to the rest of the Cleveland roster, going on to suffer from asthma, sleep apnea and eye issues during a stop-start season with the Cavaliers. A better pre-season last summer saw Bennett start last season looking considerably fitter, but the Canadian’s improved physique hasn’t been reflected in his performances, and injuries again forced him to miss 18 games. While it’s maybe too early to label Bennett a bust, it does look as though a move away from Minnesota could be best for both parties. It remains to be seen who will be willing to take a punt on him now.
The problem for teams looking at snapping up Bennett is his $7.3 million team option contract that is set to run until the end of the 2016/17 season. With an option that needs to be exercised by the end of October, potential new suitors won’t have the chance to see the forward in action again before deciding whether or not Bennett is worth the risk. But despite his early NBA struggles, general managers will only have to look back to Bennett’s college career to remind themselves just why the Toronto-born forward arrived in the league with so much hype surrounding him.