CLEVELAND — J.J. Hickson was once where Anthony Bennett is today — a rookie big man under Mike Brown with the Cavaliers.
Hickson is now on his fourth team, the one-time power forward having found a spot as the starting center for the Nuggets. It sounds trivial, but the Nuggets entered Wednesday’s game at Cleveland winners of seven straight. Hickson is averaging 9.9 points and 8.1 rebounds through the first 17 games.
Meanwhile, Bennett was the No. 1 overall pick in the 2013 NBA Draft. He came in as a power forward, too. But the Cavs have considered shifting him to small forward. Right now, there’s no telling how good (or bad) Bennett may be.
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So again, Hickson came in as a power forward. He’s now a center. Bennett came in as a power forward. He’s now … well, we don’t quite know yet, as we’re only 17 games into Bennett’s career.
“You’ve got to find a niche,” Hickson said prior to Wednesday’s game. “It takes some long than others. Just do what you do and the other things will come. A lot of guys make the mistake of coming into the league and try to work on too many things. Just do what you do. The other stuff will come as you get older.”
As for the Cavs overall, Hickson said they just need to stick with Brown and his defensive-oriented approach. This despite a mostly uneven 5-12 start.
“I know it sounds like a broken record when he talks,” Hickson said. “But it works. He doesn’t have the (championship) rings to show it, but he has the wins. I know it took me a whole year, year-and-a-half, to buy into it, because who wants to come to practice to work on defense?
“But in this league that’s what wins championships, and that’s something (the players) have to understand. Once I got it, and once a team gets it, that’s when a team makes it far in the playoffs or wins a championship.”
Hickson was drafted by the Cavs with the No. 19 overall pick in 2009. He was traded to the Kings two years later, then spent all of last year with the Trail Blazers.
“Every time I come back here, I get a certain type of feeling in my gut,” he said. “This is where I started.”