Only a year ago, Brampton, Ontarios Anthony Bennett was making a splash in the NCAA at UNLV, averaging 16.1 points per game, 8.1 rebounds, shooting .533 per cent from the field and .375 per cent from the three-point line with a good mix of power and range. The 68" freshman was drawing comparisons to former alum and Naismith Player of the Year Larry Johnson, and was considered a cant-miss NBA lottery pick. Today, two months into his rookie NBA season after being selected first overall by the Cleveland Cavaliers in the 2013 Draft, ESPNs NBA Insider Chad Ford says "hes looking like the worst #1 draft pick of the last twenty years." Bennetts season averages of 2.5 points and 2.1 rebounds per game, shooting .275 per cent from the field, .556 per cent from the free throw line and .148 per cent from behind the arc in 10.5 minutes per game do little to contravene Fords claim. Bennetts agent and former AAU coach Mike George feels the media criticism is making a bigger story than necessary and is tinged with bias. "Obviously hes the #1 pick so theres a lot of pressure in that regard," George says. "I also think the fact that hes Canadian [means] a lot of the American media are not telling both sides of the story." Yet, Ford was also the biggest champion of the now since forgotten, Serbian 7-footer Darko Milicic, who in 2002 was drafted behind LeBron James and ahead of Carmelo Anthony, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh. So how did Bennett go from stud to dud? Last January, he developed a torn left rotator cuff which he played through, until the Runnin Rebels were eliminated from the NCAA tournament in March. After declaring for the draft, he had shoulder surgery in May and wasnt cleared for basketball activity until September, missing all of Summer League. He finally was able to participate in Clevelands training camp, with a focus of getting back into game shape, working on his conditioning and losing weight. The other side of the story that George refers to - the unfair media criticism - is that the Cavaliers strategy was always to ease Bennett in. Mary Schmitt Boyer of the Cleveland Plain-Dealer, who covers the team, agrees. "They actually are kind of stacked at power forward," she says. "So bringing him along slowly, on what they anticipated was going to be a playoff team, was definitely part of the plan. I know that they are a little sensitive to criticism of him, compared to some of the other players. They say if he played as many minutes as some of these other players, his stats would be better. Im not sure I am totally in agreement on that." But minutes are hard to come by for a rookie on an underperforming 11-21 squad searching for wins. Sending him down to the D-League isnt an option that the Cavaliers are entertaining, so is their master plan working? "For the past two months, hes been going two-a-days and getting himself back in shape," George says. "Thats why hes cut his weight down to 243 right now, and you see the difference between his play today and the start of the season. He looks different on the floor, hes running better, and playing with more confidence." Schmitt Boyer offers a more measured assessment. "Its very, very incremental," she says. "Hell do little things that coaches see and will point out to him when they are going through game footage. But I do think hes catching on and getting a little better, although theyve set the bar pretty low. I sense that his confidence is actually getting better. Even if it might not be totally showing up in his stats, theyre showing more confidence in him." That confidence, coupled with opportunity, may be the shift Bennett needs, as he has lost 17 pounds since training camp. The Cavaliers have indefinitely suspended centre Andrew Bynum, freeing up minutes in the frontcourt and have ended the small forward experiment, moving him back to his natural slot in the power forward position. "Is he starting off slower than a number 1 pick should?" Schmitt Boyer asks. "Yes, and Im not trying to soften what hes doing in any means. A couple years ago, people were really down on Tristan Thompson and now Im not sure he wouldnt be the second pick in that draft. Its a little quick to determine him the worst number one pick in twenty years. He may well be a bust, I just dont think its fair to say that after two months in the NBA." The end result of Bennetts rookie campaign lies somewhere in between. He wont go down as the worst pick in the last twenty years, yet is hard pressed to live up to the standard of a number one draft pick. Make no mistake, no one will pencil him in for the All-Rookie team just yet, but chances are high Bennett will prove that Ford may have been suffering from a case of premature proclamation. Natrell Jamerson Jersey .Commissioner Adam Silver said Wednesday it is inevitable that the league will one day take after European sports and have sponsor names on team jerseys. Rick Leonard Jersey .C. -- Marcus Paige and his North Carolina teammates have endured so many wild swings -- big wins, surprising losses, NCAA drama -- that no one can blame their Hall of Fame coach for wondering whats next. http://www.authenticsaintssportsonline.c...th-gold-jersey/. His big 2-minute outburst in the fourth quarter Tuesday night is all that really mattered for the Dallas Mavericks. Natrell Jamerson Saints Jersey . - Titans quarterback Jake Locker will miss the rest of the season with a Lisfranc injury to his right foot, leaving Tennessee trying to rally with Ryan Fitzpatrick. TreQuan Smith Jersey .ca/CurlingSkins - with the Top 16 curlers earning a ticket to Banff, Alta. to compete in the TRAVELERS ALL-STAR CURLING SKINS GAME Presented by Pintys, running Jan.Australian Nick Kyrgios continued his impressive season with a 7-6 7-6 victory over fourth seed Stan Wawrinka at the Madrid Open. The 21-year-old Australian reached the semi-final in Miami and having seen off clay-court specialist Guido Pella in the first round, followed that up with a straight sets triumph over the out-of-sorts Wawrinka.The Swiss star has been below his best in recent weeks after starting the season with two tournament victories in the opening months of the year. As a former French Open champion, Wawrinkas threat on clay is obvious but on Wednesday Kyrgios gained a first regulation win over the Swiss, coming through in two tie-breaks to book a place in the last 16.Kyrgios got a suspended 28-day ban and fine after making remarks about Wawrinkas girlfriend during their match at the Rogers Cup in Montreal last year, but the Australian has seemed a more focused indivvidual this season, claiming his maiden ATP title with success in Marseille.ddddddddddddElsewhere Kei Nishikori survived a major scare against Fabio Fognini - the Italian had chances in the final set to claim a surprise victory but the sixth seeded Japanese held his nerve to come through 6-2 3-6 7-6There was also a win for David Ferrer who continued his return to form, although he needed three sets and more than two hours to overcome American qualifier Denis Kudla.Next up for the Spanish ninth seed will be Tomas Berdych who enjoyed a routine win over Denis Istomin.You can follow the action in Madrid on Thursday on Sky Sports 3 from 11am. Also See: Djokovic back with victory Masters of their trade WATCH: Tomic the tank engine Murrays Masters route Cheap Jerseys Online Wholesale Black NFL Jerseys Youth NFL Jerseys Wholesale Cheap Jerseys Wholesale Wholesale Nike NFL Jerseys Wholesale NFL Jerseys Wholesale Jerseys Free Shipping ' ' '