With the drought of information regarding what CG will do with the #1 pick Anthony Bennett has become the flavor of the week- I already did a small piece on Bennett before the Cavs landed the top pick. Basically I said hes good, short PFs aren't a deal breaker at that position and taking the BPA is still the way to go for the Cavs. This post is more about how Bennett would fit in with this team offensively in the near term.
It is pretty much taken as a given that Bennett will be good on offense, but how good could he be? One thing you see pretty immediately from watching the draft express video is that he is very versatile. His team is clearly running a variety of plays to get him the ball basically anywhere on the court. He shot the 3 decently, he has a nice looking mid range game, he posts up a little and he can finish at the rim on the break. At his age to have a variety of skills that he can do above averagely means a pretty dang high level of natural skill.
How will this fit in with the Cavs right now?
I don't want to oversell it but to put it bluntly- perfectly (potentially). As a PF working with Kyrie and Dion as ball handlers you have a huge number of ways to create and exploit mismatches. If a big man is guarding Bennett he had better be able to defend the pick and roll extremely well. First of all his size (girth) should make it almost impossible for guards to fight through the pick, they will have to go under or well over. If they go under Bennett can simply step back and catch a drop off pass for a 3 ball as the Guard will be between Bennett and his defender. This will lead to a lot of open looks and also make it harder for the big man to sag and push the ball handler out of his attack lane. The pick and pop will keep the opposing teams bigs out of the way for Irving and Waiters to have open lanes.
If they switch a SF Bennett's size will make the pick and roll difficult to deal with as his girth and long arms will make blocks and disrupting his finish very low probability for a smaller player. Even top defenders like Lebron will have to expend a lot of energy defending Bennett. Lesser players (ie almost everyone else) will need help from the big when the roll starts.
For the other members of the Cavs the pick and roll and pick and pop will open up a variety of options. The pick and pop will pull big men out of the lane and allow for cutters who can finish at the rim. The pick and roll draws other defenders in and allows for open 15 footers. You know who has a great off the ball cutting game and a decent 15 ft shot? Varejoa. Paired up with Andy on offense means that defenders will need eyes in the back of their heads to keep track of the motion off the ball along with the picks and screens going on around the ball. The guard big combo here looks pretty close to ideal with two ball handlers in motion on the perimeter looking for attack lanes and a complimentary big working the open space his versatility creates.
When paired with TT it would look less effective as Tristan's (current) limitations in catching and finishing in one motion and no real jumper would make him less dangerous than Andy. However the constant rotations and TTs offensive rebounding skills would work well together as bigs will have a tough time helping and maintaining position to box out once a shot goes up opening up more chances for second possessions.
The small forward could also be paired with TT to mitigate his weakness. In an offense like this the SF could basically shoot every time he touched the ball as rotations will be away from him and toward the larger threat. Know any catch and shoot guys that just love their itchy trigger fingers? Yeah CJ Miles could bomb from down town or take his mid range twos every time the ball hit his hand practically and he would be making a good choice. this would leve the off ball cutting for TT but his work ethic and BBall IQ should make him decent, if not better than decent, at this pretty quickly.
When Andy is on the floor CJ would be less valuable and a defensive player like Gee could be in place (especially if he could up his 3pt shooting to 35-36%) and Gee is also able to cut and finish a little. Ellington could also be switched in for a guard when they needed a breather and trade a ball handler for another 3 pt shooter.
The fast break with Kyrie, Dion, Bennett and TT would also be- I don't know, whats the french word for unstoppable?
I think the upside with just adding Bennett (and having a healthy Kyrie/Andy) could mean a top three offense in the NBA- as soon as the all-star break next season.
Lots has been said about his defensive limitations so far, and those are valid concerns. I did want to balance that discussion out with the prospect of having a Nash/Amar'e quality pick and roll duo with ancillary players suited so nicely for their roles.