Why Cleveland Cavaliers Should Send No. 1 Pick Anthony Bennett to the D-League

Jonathan WassermanNBA Lead WriterNovember 21, 2013

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What are they doing to this kid?

He was booed Wednesday night...at home. Anthony Bennett was booed at home after airballing a three-pointer—a miss that's now made him 5-of-37 from the floor on the year. That's 13.5 percent.

It's starting to get out of hand. 

But the Cleveland Cavaliers apparently don't see it that way. Despite his disastrously ineffective start, they remain reluctant to send him down to the NBA's developmental league. 

I'm not sure why. It's not like he's contributing to the rotation or proven he's capable of making an impact just yet. 

Bennett is 20 years old. He played one year in college in the Mountain West Conference, and missed July's summer league. He's just not as NBA-ready as everyone hoped for. And that's OK, but there's no point in pretending like he is. 

Bennett needs a place where he can build some rhythm. A place where he can have the freedom to experiment on the floor. A place where he can miss 15 shots a game and have barely anyone see it. 

I'm talking about a little place called the D-League. 

It's where players who aren't ready go to develop, or where you can polish up a skill or fix a broken tool.  It shouldn't matter that Bennett was the first pick in the draft. It's not his fault the Cavs reached. Had Bennett been taken No. 25, would Cleveland still be this reluctant to send him down?

You get the feeling that the only reason he's still up here is because of his status as a No. 1 overall pick. Hopefully this isn't about the Cavs trying to protect themselves from those ready to say they swung and missed in the draft, given the negative connotation that comes with "sending a player down." 

But the fact is that Bennett can barely make a shot now. He's 1-of-13 from downtown, 3-of-11 in the mid-range, and 1-of-13 at the rim. 


He's missing open shots and struggling to create any good ones. 

And he doesn't appear to be in tip-top shape either. The Cavs have him listed at 259 pounds—19 more than his playing weight at UNLV. 

But this is really all about confidence. Bennett just doesn't have any right now. And there's no better place to find some than the D-League. Just ask Reggie Jackson of the Oklahoma City Thunder, who was sent on assignment to Tulsa last season, where he averaged 28 points through three games before coming back and playing some of the best ball of his young career.  

When you're making the transition from college to the pros, confidence equates to fuel. 

This is probably something Bennett has never experienced in his life. And he's not going to build any confidence playing 11 minutes a game as a fourth option on the floor. 

I just don't see the point in giving him minimal burn on an every-other-night basis. If you're going to keep him up here, then give him a chance to make some plays. 

Otherwise, let him go dominate a few D-League games with the Canton Charge and restore some of that confidence before throwing him back into the fire.

The Cavs need to swallow their pride on this one. If Bennett isn't helping, at least put him in a position to improve. And that's not at the end of the bench.