Anthony Bennett is getting another chance to make a name for himself in the NBA.
According to Shams Charania of The Athletic, the Canadian has agreed to a non-guaranteed deal with the Houston Rockets. Jonathan Feigen of the Houston Chronicle added that it is a training camp invite.
The Rockets currently have 10 players under guaranteed contracts for next season, so there is room for Bennett if he can prove himself worthy of a roster spot.
Rockets will invite Anthony Bennett, the first pick of the 2013 NBA Draft, to training camp, source said. Still working on details of the deal. Bennett has spent the past four seasons in the G League, most recently with Agua Caliente.- Jonathan Feigen (@Jonathan_Feigen) July 13, 2019
Bennett spent the first four years of his professional career bouncing around the NBA with the Cleveland Cavaliers, Minnesota Timberwolves, Toronto Raptors and Brooklyn Nets. He failed to stick with any of those teams, leading him to the G League, where he's been playing the last two seasons.
In 2017-18 - his first full season in the G League - Bennett averaged 14.3 points, 6.7 rebounds and 1.8 assists over 35 games with the Maine Red Claws and Northern Arizona Suns. In 2018-19, he averaged 12.2 points, 4.5 rebounds and 1.2 assists in 25 games with the Agua Caliente Clippers.
Bennett started in only seven of the 25 games he appeared in with the Clippers, and yet he was the team's best 3-point shooter. According to Basketball Reference, almost two-thirds of his shot attempts on the season came from the perimeter and he made 45.3 percent of those opportunities. He posted similar numbers the season prior. Over half of his shot attempts as a member of the Red Claws and Suns came from the 3-point line, where he combined to shoot 42.3 percent.
While Bennett came into the NBA with 3-point range, he struggled with consistency. He shot 24.5 percent from the 3-point line as a rookie and 30.4 percent as a sophomore. He then shot less than 30.0 percent from 3 (albeit in limited games) with both the Raptors and Nets.
Being a knockdown shooter in the G League is very different to being one in the NBA, but the Rockets are likely drawn to the idea of Bennett being able to space the floor at a high level as a power forward or small ball centre. The Rockets have led the league in 3-point attempts in each of the last three seasons and value shooting at every position.
Helping Bennett's case is that he differentiates himself from most players his size by being more than a corner 3-point shooter. He's just as much of a threat to shoot from the top of the arc, giving him the tools to play alongside James Harden and Russell Westbrook, both of whom are high usage players who are consistently among the league leaders in pick-and-roll scoring.
Should he make the team, Bennett would likely be expected to do one of two things - either spot-up on the wings to maximize spacing or play off of Harden and Westbrook as a pick-and-pop threat. He'd essentially be a specialist, much like how Ryan Anderson was when he was with the Rockets. Bennett was expected to be far more when he was selected with the No. 1 pick in the 2013 NBA Draft, but it could be the key to revitalizing his career.
With the way they are constructed, the Rockets have somewhat of a need for Bennett's skill set, too.
Houston already has a stretch four in P.J. Tucker, but his backup, Gary Clark, converted only 29.7 percent of his 3-point attempts last season. Their next-best shooter at the power forward and centre position might be Isaiah Hartenstein, although it remains to be seen how much of a role he has on the team next season, especially now that the Rockets have signed Tyson Chandler to be Clint Capela's backup.
Additionally, the Rockets have replaced a very capable 3-point shooter in Chris Paul with a historically poor one in Westbrook. Bennett could help make up some of the difference between the two depending on how well his shooting in the G League the last two seasons translates to the NBA.
There's obviously no guarantee that it will translate well, but for a Rockets team that has little to no cap space and is always on the hunt for more shooting, there's nothing to lose in signing Bennett to the contract they have.
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