Cavs No. 1 Pick Anthony Bennett Would Embrace Idea of Playing in NBA D-League

Adam Fromal@fromal09National NBA Featured ColumnistJanuary 15, 2014

CLEVELAND, OH - DECEMBER 29:  Head coach Mike Brown of the Cleveland Cavaliers provides instruction to Anthony Bennett #15 during a break in the action against the Golden State Warriors at The Quicken Loans Arena on December 29, 2013 in Cleveland, Ohio. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this Photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2013 NBAE (Photo by David Liam Kyle/NBAE via Getty Images)
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Anthony Bennett is in touch with reality, which is fortunate since he doesn't seem to be in touch with his basketball game. 

The No. 1 pick in the 2013 NBA draft has averaged only 2.4 points, 2.2 rebounds and 0.2 assists per game, and he's shooting just 26.9 percent from the field and 14.3 percent beyond the arc. It all adds up to the worst PER of any top selection in recent memory, as shown below: 

Bennett knows it's time for a change, and he's willing to turn to the D-League in order to make that step in the right decision. 

As he told The Plain Dealer's Mary Schmitt Boyer before receiving the dreaded DNP-CD against the Los Angeles Lakers on Jan. 14, "It's something I'd think about, for sure. It's not a bad thing, especially going down there, hopefully playing a lot, going out there, building my confidence."

Bennett is exactly right. 

The D-League no longer carries as much of a stigma, as teams are increasingly likely to send down players for developmental purposes. Bennett could play against easier competition, regain a positive state of mind and start putting up solid numbers again for the first time since leaving UNLV.

But most importantly, he could play. 

Since the calendars changed to 2014, Bennett has averaged only 10 minutes per game in his six appearances. But the playing time has been declining, culminating in an entire game spent on the bench when visiting the Lakers. 

CLEVELAND, OH - JANUARY 2:  Anthony Bennett #15  of the Cleveland Cavaliers controls the ball against Jason Maxiell #54 of the Orlando Magic at The Quicken Loans Arena on January 2, 2014 in Cleveland, Ohio. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and ag
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"Seven second-round picks are competing in the Showcase as NBA teams (and agents, by the way) have become more open to using the feeder league as a true developmental tool," reports CBS Sports' Ken Berger. "In all, nine first-round picks from the 2013 draft and 13 second-rounders have appeared in the D-League this season."

Berger goes on to question why Bennett isn't adding to that total, writing that the Cavaliers aren't using all the tools at their disposal if they fail to send their No. 1 pick to Canton. 

He, much like Bennett, is exactly right. 

The Cavaliers front office has done a horrific job assembling a competitive roster, and they've missed on more draft picks than they've hit over the last few seasons. Sending Bennett to the D-League and maximizing the returns they get from him would be a step in the right direction. 

Stigma or not, it's where he belongs. And fortunately for the Cavs, he doesn't feel like there is one.