Should Anthony Bennett be in the D-League?

NBA: Cleveland Cavaliers-Press Conference
Will Big Daddy Canada shine? (AP Photo/John Raoux)

Anthony Bennett continues to struggle. Is it time for the D-League?
(AP Photo/John Raoux)

Last night during a glorious win, there was one negative sub-plot unfolding: Anthony Bennett had another frustrating game. In 18 minutes he went 1-for-6 with eight rebounds and five turnovers. Worse than the stat line was his body language, which seemed to lack confidence. He capped off his evening on the court losing the ball in mid-air as he took it up for what I think was a two-footed jumping dunk. It looked lazy, and Bennett followed it up with an embarrassing glance toward referees seemingly looking for an unearned bailout. The boos rained down on the rookie once again on his home court. Our own Andrew tweeted wondering if maybe it is time for Bennett to get some time in the D-League.

Andrew expanded on the tweet in his Behind the Box Score post.

Bennett had opportunities playing in garbage time, but he committed an offensive foul, turned the ball over a couple times, and missed a dunk. The fans at the Q started booing Bennett in a game in which the team was winning big. Bennett’s body language deteriorated and he was walking dejectedly up and down the court. It was ugly. I won’t condone the fans booing and I would never boo someone who plays for the team I root for. But I also understand the fans’ frustration and I’m discouraged by Bennett’s reaction to it. I still think the Cavaliers should send Bennett to Canton for a while and let him get his confidence back against lower competition and away from the wrath of the fans.

The idea is starting to pick up steam in other parts of the media as well. Ken Berger from CBS Sports weighed in on the topic as well.

The most obvious reason for not subjecting Bennett to a D-League stint is the embarrassment factor. No top overall pick has ever competed in the D-League; the highest-drafted player to appear in a D-League game was 2009 No. 2 pick Hasheem Thabeet. But other top picks have toiled in the development league, including Shaun Livingston (No. 4 in 2004), Johnny Flynn (No. 6 in 2009) and Joe Alexander (No. 8 in 2008). Alexander is here in Reno, coincidentally, with the Santa Cruz Warriors, but is injured.

The point is, couldn’t Bennett, 20, benefit from a developmental stint in a league where he could get consistent practice reps and meaningful minutes? Especially now, when the Cavs’ acquisition of Luol Deng in Monday night’s trade with Chicago presumably will push Bennett even further onto the fringe of the Cavs’ rotation?

I hate to dwell on negative things after a game where so many things went right for the Cavaliers, but it’s really something that needs to be addressed anyway. Anthony Bennett is not getting better right now, and worse yet, his body language appears to be that of a frustrated basketball player. For Bennett that frustration appears not to be heading toward a breakout game, but instead into a much larger snowball.

We’ll see what the Cavaliers decide to do, especially in light of the Luol Deng trade and how that will impact the rotations and playing time. At this point, the D-League option doesn’t seem all that bad and it probably couldn’t be more embarrassing than the performances that are leading to home court boos.

  • Pat Leonard

    Yep, send him to Canton. Get him the reps, get his confidence going, and then bring him back when the inevitable frontcourt injury comes. His problem right now isn’t ability, it’s confidence. I firmly believe he hits all of these jump shots in practice.

  • Marek Włodarczyk

    he played better in last games (more active, try to score in paint, got some dunks, his defense is improving), the one last night he got 8 boards got couple easy looks and even nice pass, some of the bad things like TO and offensive fouls were bad calls (in 4Q refs call only 3 PF on Cavs players and 13 PF on 76ers players – so some of the boo’s might be about bad call or no call)… let him stay with the team and work with Andy, Deng and TT

  • mgbode

    don’t forget to send a personal trainer that is whipping him into shape at the same time.

    I’m surprised that some even question that it is what is needed at this point.

  • Ezzie Goldish

    If the issue were a guy needs game situations to work kinks out, then D-league makes sense. If the guy needs more practice and understanding, then sticking around the NBA and seeing his teammates and coaches and learning from them makes more sense. Bennett seems to be in the latter category.

  • The_Real_Shamrock

    Agreed I don’t know why they have waited this long. For that matter maybe Karasev should join him.

  • Pat Leonard

    I think he just needs confidence. He fouls too much on setting screens, but that’s pretty normal for rookie bigs. I just want him to see the ball go in the hoop during game situations as I’m betting it goes in the hoop during practice without any problems.

  • JHop

    Confidence can do wonders for players. I’m still convinced that a lack of confidence is the source of most of Trent Richardson’s issues as well. You can’t hit a jumper in the NBA, break tackles in the NFL, or hit on that girl at the bar without a good serving of confidence.
    If Bennett goes down to the D-League and puts up big 20-10-5 numbers, then he could get his swagger back and return to his former (collegiate) form.

  • JHop

    Do you ever wonder what Karasev does with his free time? What does an 18 year old from Russia do in a city like Cleveland?

  • The_Real_Shamrock

    I feel worse for this kid then I do Bennett I mean Bennett sees the floor and does nothing poor Karasev just sits there unless the game is completely out of hand. I honestly thought this kid would get more time I completely forgot who his head coach was though.

  • Pat Leonard

    Karasev is 20, so he does what any 20-year-old kid in Cleveland does on their days off… he goes to Canada so he can drink :)

  • cmm13

    Honestly, if Grant/Brown were ever going to pull the trigger on this; now’s the time.
    Everyone’s attention is on the acquisition of Deng and would go much less noticed.
    In fact to echo mgbode; it is a little too late. They should have had him on a bus to Canton 3 minutes after the ink was dry on the Deng trade to sweep it completely under the rug.

  • Kildawg

    This Bennett situation exposes a major flaw with the NBA (and the NFL as well) with the underutilization (or lack of) a developmental league. The one thing that MLB gets right over the other two is such a system.

  • Wow

    Now is the time to do it. He can gain confidence back.

  • The_Real_Shamrock

    Rob Ford says come to Toronto they have it all!

  • The_Real_Shamrock

    Either that or up the minimum age to enter the NBA. Imagine if they had not done that a few years ago what a mess things would be I mean you’d have guys who just finished puberty in the NBA. Although judging by the antics of JR Smith some of these guys still haven’t hit puberty.

  • BenRM

    For what it’s worth, he was missing a high percentage of his shots when the team was shooting around before the game and during halftime. (During halftime, I counted…after 2 for 8, i stopped counting.)

    I’m not sure what that means, but it was something I noted.

  • BenRM

    In Soviet Cleveland, 18 year old Russian does you