Anthony Bennett's rookie season could have gone worse. The Cleveland Cavaliers forward could have been framed for a murder he didn't commit, for one thing, or forced to play a deadly yearlong game of cat-and-mouse with a deranged genius bent on world domination; either of those things would have been way worse than just struggling to perform up to the expectations that come with being the No. 1 overall pick in the 2013 NBA draft.

Once you eliminate the plotlines of potential suspense/thriller films, though, it's difficult to envision a scenario in which the former UNLV product's 2013-14 campaign could have been more diametrically opposed to the way he and his new employers drew it up. Bennett began his professional career behind the 8-ball, after pre-draft surgery to repair a torn left rotator cuff not only knocked him out of Summer League and the Cavs' offseason program, but also left him unable to resume five-on-five work until a month and a half before the start of the season. He had a hard time getting in shape during Cleveland's exhibition slate and couldn't hit the broad side of the barn after the regular season began; before long, he was hearing boos at home, sparking debates about the prospective merits of a D-League stint, and being tabbed as perhaps the biggest No. 1 pick bust of all time ... all before he could legally buy beer. (In the States, that is; you can purchase a Molson free and clear at 18 in Alberta, Manitoba and Quebec, and 19 elsewhere in Bennett's native land of Canada.)

Things got better as the season wore on, with the 6-foot-8 Bennett turning in some performances that reminded us why Cleveland rolled the dice on him; a March knee injury effectively ended his season, but his marked post-All-Star-break improvement bought him a little bit of breathing room as he entered his first full proper NBA offseason. There was just one problem, though — Bennett still couldn't really breathe, thanks to the asthma and sleep apnea that had compounded his conditioning problems and often left him, as Grantland's Jason Concepcion once put it, with his "hands on hips, shoulders rolled, head down, mouth-breathing like a freshly hooked bass."