MIAMI — Anthony Bennett has made two major changes in recent weeks. He’s hoping they can work together to turn around what has been a miserable rookie season.
Bennett has changed his diet and lost between 12 and 15 pounds since training camp. He has also taken to watching old films from his college days at UNLV, searching to find the spark that has vanished since he turned pro.
“I just have to get back to the player I was in college,” Bennett said. “I was playing with a smile on my face. It was fun, carefree, running up and down a lot. There’s a whole bunch of stuff I can try to get back to.”
Like, for starters, his typical game weight. Bennett is down around his college playing weight of 240 pounds after showing up to training camp grossly out of shape and overweight.
Bennett deflected questions about his weight during the preseason, particularly after the first intrasquad scrimmage when he was exhausted after a couple of trips down the floor. He said his weight wasn’t an issue and he didn’t think he needed to drop any pounds.
Now one-quarter of the way into the season, Bennett has changed his mind.
“I wasn’t really worried about my weight at all because I was still playing, still running up and down and I felt good,” Bennett said. “But I felt like I needed to get back to my playing weight.”
Bennett has cut out a lot of dairy products, scaled back his carbohydrates and loaded up on proteins. He’s drinking more water and avoiding juices.
“Just cutting down on a lot of sugar,” he said.
On the court, Bennett is trying to play inside a little more. He caught a lob from Jarrett Jack for a nifty dunk during Friday’s win at the Orlando Magic and seems to be seeking out more post-up opportunities.
But he’s still only averaging 2.2 points and 1.9 rebounds. He has yet to score in double figures in any game, is still learning his defensive responsibilities at small forward and frankly hasn’t done enough to earn coach Mike Brown’s trust and minutes.
Brown has never been one to trust rookies much, and with the Cavs shifting into a win-now mode this season, Brown isn’t spending game minutes trying to develop Bennett.
Bennett has only played about 185 minutes this season. Victor Oladipo, the No. 2 overall pick by the Magic, has played about 720.
“There’s going to be an odd man out at times and a lot of times the odd man out is going to be the young rookie as opposed to the older veterans,” Brown said last week. “It has nothing to do with him making a mistake. If I was pulling guys out based on making mistakes, I don’t know who would be in the game for a long time.”