If the 2013 NBA draft was a wine vintage, retailers would already have their "Big Clearance Sale!" signs up to help make way for the highly anticipated crop next June.
The early returns from this season's rookie class indicate this was one of the weakest drafts in years.
The No. 1 overall pick, power forward Anthony Bennett, showed up at the Cavaliers' camp overweight, out of shape and suffering from sleep apnea. Things didn't improve after the season began. Bennett missed his first 16 shots and has struggled to stay in Coach Mike Brown's rotation, averaging only 10 minutes, 2.3 points and 1.9 rebounds a game, while shooting 28.8%. Some fans are calling for Bennett's demotion to the D-League.
"Right now, he's looking like the worst [top pick] in the past 20 years. That includes Greg Oden. Oden was injured all the time, but when he played, he at least looked like a No. 1 pick," ESPN analyst Chad Ford told the Cleveland Plain Dealer.
The best rookie, so far, appropriately wears No. 1 for Philadelphia — guard Michael Carter-Williams. His athleticism, plus his 17.6 points, 7.8 assists and three steals per game, are prompting comparisons to Allen Iverson.
Some lottery picks have incomplete grades because of injuries: Portland's C.J. McCollum (No. 10) hasn't played a game and has just been cleared to practice after a fractured foot. Other rookies are healthy, but haven't displayed ready-to-play talent. Shabazz Muhammad (No. 14) has played only 14 minutes in December for the Timberwolves.
Meanwhile, Bobcats center Cody Zeller, the No. 4 overall pick from Indiana, is averaging 5.4 points and shooting 38.5% in 18 minutes a game.
"The last time I didn't start was my freshman year in high school. It's been a little weird adjusting to a reserve role," Zeller wrote for Si.com. "Guys in this league are so talented . . . things can snowball on you real quick. If you aren't your best every night, it's not like you have a nonconference game against some nobody like in college."
Maybe that's worth an A for insight on Zeller's NBA 101 report card.
Ten teams played on Christmas and with the players as models, the NBA threw in a fashion show, too. It was the debut of Adidas' holiday uniforms, with tight-fitting jerseys, jolting colors, bigger team logos and numbers on the sleeves, instead of the traditional looser, sleeveless tops.
Players didn't like the new look. LeBron James made seven of 14 shots in Miami's win over the Lakers, but declared the fire-engine-red jersey sleeves hampered his shooting. "It's definitely a different feeling," he said. "I felt a little tug."
Knicks guard Beno Udrih scored only two points in a loss to the Thunder, missing an uncontested three-pointer so badly the ball ricocheted off the side of the backboard. He immediately tried to shove both sleeves above his shoulders. "Maybe we should practice wearing them for a few weeks," he said.
Dallas didn't play on Christmas, but Mavericks owner Mark Cuban was watching the fashion show. "It made our guys look more like a high school wrestling team," he said. Another critic, Portland center Robin Lopez, tweeted: "[There] needs to be a mass burning of these sleeved NBA jerseys."Copyright © 2015, The Baltimore Sun