Cleveland Cavaliers Should Send Anthony Bennett to D-League

Jonathan WassermanNBA Lead WriterJanuary 19, 2014

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This has to be the most preposterous story line of the 2013-14 NBA season. Cleveland Cavaliers' rookie Anthony Bennett has been painfully awful through roughly two months of basketball, yet the team refuses to make the only and obvious developmental move. 

Send this kid to the D-League already. Bennett clearly isn't ready for NBA play, as made evidence by his 2.4 points-per-game average and hilarious 1.08 PER

It's like refusing to send your kid to the doctor when he's sick. And the longer the Cavs keep Bennett suffering at the end of the bench, the sicker he might get. 

It's selfish, egotistical and potentially detrimental. Not only is Bennett being denied the chance to improve, but the Cavs are risking stunting his growth by allowing him soak in his own misery. 

The kid needs some confidence. He needs to build some rhythm out there. Trial and error is a huge part of the developmental process—figuring out what works, what doesn't, the cold spots, the sweet spots. 

Playing time is actually even more important for a kid like a Bennett—a combo forward who played the 4 at UNLV, yet will likely have to evolve into an NBA small forward. Undersized at power forward without much of a post game, Bennett needs every rep he can get at a position that will take time to learn. 

For Bennett to be successful in the pros, he's also going to need that jumper to start falling. He's got promise in this department—he shot 37.5 percent from downtown as a freshman in college (and quite frankly, his form and mechanics aren't all that bad). But in 10.4 minutes a game as a rookie, it's just impossible to find a zone or catch fire as a shooter.

How on god's green Earth is Bennett supposed to develop by watching? He's now racked up three-straight DNPs. This whole thing couldn't make any less sense—I think we'd be here all night before someone came up with a justifiable reason to keep Bennett on the bench instead of allowing him to get some burn in the D-League.

Even Bennett himself seems cool with the idea. 

"It's something I'd think about, for sure," Bennett told The Plain Dealer's Mary Schmitt Boyer. "It's not a bad thing, especially going down there, hopefully playing a lot, going out there, building my confidence." 

via TNT

The only possible explanation I can think of from the Cavs point of view is that they're afraid to admit making a mistake. As if it matters at this point.

You have to wonder whether Cleveland would be more willing to send him down if they took Bennett with the No. 15 pick instead of the first pick.

The D-League was created for this very reason—to give fringe or unprepared NBA players a chance to play and expand their games. You don't hear it often, but the D in D-league actually stands for development. 

At the end of the day, I'd like to think the No. 1 responsibility an organization should have (in terms of player personnel) is putting its players in the best possible position to succeed. And as long as Bennett is picking up splinters at the end of the pine, he'll be in no position to expand and grow his game. 

It's just another example that emphasizes the importance of team fit for a prospect. 

You really can't write off Bennett until he's at least given a shot at regular minutes. Former first-overall pick and bust Michael Olowokandi got over 25 a game in each of his first three years—before it was obvious that he couldn't play. 

Bennett is only 20 years old. He should probably be a sophomore instead of an NBA bench warmer or D-leaguer. But the fact is the Cavs drafted him, and now it's their responsibility to properly develop him. 

For the first two months of the season, it's been Bennett who's looked like the disappointment. And while that might stand true today, it's the Cavs' management who should really be taking a good portion of the blame.