For Cleveland Cavaliers rookie Anthony Bennett, two's a crowd.
A slow start to his NBA career has left him on the outskirts of the league's Rising Stars Challenge during All-Star weekend, putting him in the company of someone he could do without linking himself to: Kwame Brown.
Bennett's exclusion was inevitable, but that doesn't make it any easier to accept. The rookie has struggled in every aspect of the game, posting averages of 2.8 points and 2.4 rebounds on 27.9 percent shooting through 33 appearances.
When compared to Brown's performance through his first 33 games, Bennett's numbers are (un)remarkably similar:
|Kwame vs. Bennett: The First 33 Games|
Brown isn't company Bennett wants to have. Though he carved out a 12-year career, he's considered one of the worst No. 1 picks ever, if not of all time. His lifetime averages of 6.6 points and 5.5 rebounds per game are enough to make your skin crawl after reminding yourself the Washington Wizards drafted him in hopes he could save the franchise.
We all know how that turned out.
"I give the kid a lot of credit," Cavs coach Mike Brown said of Bennett, per Lloyd. "He’s had a tough start, a really tough start."
A really, really tough start.
ESPN's Chad Ford already told The Cleveland Plain Dealer's Jodie Valade that Bennett was "looking like the worst" top pick in 20 years. If he wishes to avoid the dreaded bust label and a fate similar to Brown's, Bennett must get busy. Like, yesterday.
And it seems he already has.
In a season-high 31 minutes of action Tuesday night against the New Orleans Pelicans, Bennett went for 15 points, eight rebounds, one assist and one block on 5-of-10 shooting. His effort came in a loss, but his performance was a relief, nonetheless.
It might even be something he can build on. A turning point.
Something he can use to put distance between himself and notorious busts like Brown.
*Stats courtesy of Basketball-Reference.