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Anthony Bennett hopes laser eye surgery boosts game

11/12/2014 10:51 EST | Updated 01/12/2015 05:59 EST
Details are starting to emerge about what may have played a key role in Anthony Bennett's ridiculously awful rookie season with the Cleveland Cavaliers.

The 21-year-old from Toronto, who became the first Canadian selected No. 1 overall in the NBA draft in 2013, struggled mightily in his first season as a pro. He didn't get his first basket until his fifth game. He finished the season averaging just 4.2 points per game.

“I just feel like there’s a lid on the basket,” Bennett told reporters at the time, in the early days of the 2013-14 season. 

It turns out the basket did have a strange look to it, at least in Bennett's eyes. His vision was a problem, he revealed in a recent interview with Sports Illustrated.

Although he had never worn contacts, Bennett decided to get laser surgery in the off-season. 

'Now I can see'

He said he couldn't read a white board 10 feet away. During games, he couldn't see people in the stands, or the scoreboard from a distance.

You could imagine he wasn't seeing the basket clearly, either.

“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.” 

Certainly, it does raise a valid question about the quality of these NBA physicals during training camp. 

Bennett, who has also dropped 20 pounds and gone from Cleveland to Minnesota, is part of an upstart Timberwolves squad that features another Canadian No. 1 draft pick, Andrew Wiggins in 2014. While it's still early in the 2014-15 season, his field goal shooting percentage has improved considerably over last year. 

He's currently shooting 56.5 per cent from the field after five games. He ended last season at 35.6 per cent.

Part of that is the fact he's taking higher percentage of shots on the advice of Timberwolves coach Flip Saunders.

"You are not going to shoot threes," Saunders told SI.com of his instructions to Bennett.

But having clear vision certainly can't hurt.

“Last year I felt like I was always playing catch-up,” Bennett said. “This year, it feels a lot different.”

Bennett backs up starting power forward Thaddeus Young. Last year, he spent most of his time playing small forward.

Already his game has improved significantly at both ends of the court, and his athleticism is starting to show.

"It's a fresh start," Bennett recently told Rolling Stone. "God gave me an opportunity. A new team, new coaching staff, new players, so I just gotta go out there and play hard."

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