The No. 1 overall pick in the 2013 draft admitted that he struggled to deal with the longer NBA schedule, as well as the speed of the pro game:
It's been a grind. Through injuries and getting hurt right now. The travel schedule, I'll say, is pretty long. The games, too. I never knew the season would be this long; 82 games is really tough. Traveling, West Coast to East Coast and then going back and forth to other cities.
The shot clock is a lot shorter, you know, from college you go from 35 seconds to 24, so everything is a lot quicker.
Of course, the NBA is always an adjustment, even for the most elite of college players (which Bennett certainly wasn't). But it is an adjustment required of every player, particularly high lottery picks on teams with playoff aspirations.
Bennett also believed that the team was right not to send him to the NBA D-League during his early-season struggles, saying that practice and workouts helped him get better at the NBA level.
While it is true Bennett raised his play in mid-February, averaging 9.1 points and 5.8 rebounds over nine games from Feb. 3 to Feb. 21, he also fell back into his old struggles by the end of the month, averaging just 4.3 points and 1.4 rebounds in his last seven games before going on the shelf with a strained knee in early March.
Bennett has become a symbol of what has become an incredibly disappointing 2013-14 rookie class, per ESPN's Kevin Pelton (subscription required):
Most of the early attention focused on Bennett's slow start, and understandably so. He's just the fourth No. 1 pick since the merger to post negative WARP [wins above replacement player] during his rookie season (minus-1.5), joining Kwame Brown (minus-0.6), Pervis Ellison (minus-0.3) and Michael Olowokandi (minus-1.5).
No rookie—No. 1 pick or otherwise—wants to be compared to the likes of Michael Olowokandi and Kwame Brown.
Whether or not Bennett plays again for the Cavaliers this season, his rookie campaign is already beyond hope of salvation. It is now up to him to take what he has learned, put in the work over the summer and emerge a new player in 2014-15.
*All statistics courtesy of Basketball-Reference.
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