There may not be an NBA player with a stranger injury history than Minnesota Timberwolves forward and 2013 No. 1 NBA Draft pick Anthony Bennett.
In the last 15 months he has battled: sleep apnea, asthma, weight issues, and poor eyesight.
After a historically bad rookie year in Cleveland, Bennett was dealt to Minnesota as part of the Kevin Love trade and spent the summer addressing these ailments.
He had his tonsils and adenoids removed to deal with his sleep apnea — a condition where breathing is disrupted during sleep.
He told Basketball Insiders, “Since [having] my tonsils out, my adenoids, I have a lot more room to breathe. It was hard, definitely, with my tonsils in. I feel like taking them out was a huge step.”
Last season Cavaliers coach Mike Brown attributed Bennett’s conditioning issues to his asthma. According to the Star Tribune, Bennett improved his conditioning by dropping 20 pounds in six weeks over the summer.
Here’s what he looked like last year:
Here’s what he looks like now:
Bennett’s final cured ailment — his eyesight — might be the most significant. He got laser eye surgery this summer. He told Sports Illustrated’s Chris Mannix that his vision has always been terrible, but he hates contacts so he’d just not be able to see things like the scoreboard during games. From SI:
“‘You see that white board?’ Bennett said recently, pointing to a board no more than 10 feet away. ‘Last year, I couldn’t read the writing on it.’
“And during games?
“‘Anything far, I couldn’t really see,’ Bennett said. ‘I couldn’t see the people in the stands. Now I can see the scoreboard. I can see what plays coach wants to run.'”
Bennett now sleeps, sees, breathes, and runs better than he did last year. It’s no surprise that his numbers have improved.
He’s shooting 56%, compared to 35% last year. He’s playing around the same number of minutes, but his points per 36 minutes are up to 17.4 from 11.8.
Bennett is only 21 years old. While he had a nightmare rookie year, there’s still plenty of time for him to grow into a solid NBA player, especially now that he can do basic human functions so much better.
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