***Originally Published on Buckeye State Sports***
If you’ve tuned into the NBA at all so far this season, you know what a disappointment the number one overall draft selection, Anthony Bennett, has been for the Cleveland Cavaliers.
So far this season, he is averaging 2.4 points per game on 26.9 percent shooting and 2.2 rebounds in 10.4 minutes per game. Half way into his rookie season, he has also recorded the lowest PER of any number one overall pick in NBA history, and it isn’t even close.
Bennett’s current PER is 1.1. To illustrate how that ranks compared to former number one picks, infamous draft bust Kwame Brown recorded an 11.2 PER his rookie season, 10.1 higher than Bennett.
What’s even worse than Bennett’s performance on the court is his seeming lack of urgency and composure. In a blowout win over the Philadelphia 76ers, Bennett played extended minutes in garbage time. One would think that the number one overall pick, who has been struggling mightily all season, would want to take advantage of the extra playing time and prove himself.
Instead, Bennett missed a shot from the restricted area and began to sulk. He walked back down the court on defense and then the crowd began to boo his effort. On one of the Cavs’ final possessions, he set a screen for Carrick Felix at the same speed that I walk to the shower in the morning. He completely gave up.
Since then, I have personally seen him dancing through majority of pre-game warmups. Cameras have caught him seemingly completely disengaged on the bench during games and timeouts. Yet the Cavs still say they have no plans of sending him down to the D-League.
Now, it’s evident that Bennett’s confidence has been bruised since being drafted. He was drafted to a team that already bolstered a strong front-court. He then had to recover from a shoulder injury all offseason causing him to miss summer league and some practice. Then, he was diagnosed with sleep apnea and asthma. Sufficed to say, Bennett has had a rough first three months in the league.
Now that the Cavs have acquired Luol Deng through trade, Bennett has basically been removed from the rotation. It appears that the only time he is going to see the court now is in garbage time. For all of these reasons, Bennett should be relegated to the Cavs’ D-League team, the Canton Charge.
The Cavs’ 19th and 33rd picks from this year’s draft, Sergey Karasev and Felix have already played several games for the Charge this season. Both players have also talked to the media about how they think it’s beneficial for them. Bennett is obviously not going to gain any confidence sitting on the Cavs bench for the remainder of the season after an abysmal start to his rookie campaign. The best thing for him at this juncture would be to get some playing time in the D-League where he can regain his confidence and perfect his game.
To be honest, I was completely opposed to this notion a month or so ago when fans first started calling for him to be sent down. For one, no number one pick has ever played in the D-League before. And secondly, I thought practicing with the team and getting more NBA minutes would help him adjust faster. Three months in, however, I’ve seen that’s not the case and I believe most of the Cavs fan base has as well.
Karasev and Felix are constantly being sent down to the Charge and recalled by the Cavs. There’s no reason why the same can’t be done with Bennett. If the Cavs’ only reason for not doing so is because he was a number one pick, then that’s a problem.
According to Jodie Valade of The Plain Dealer, Mike Brown has basically affirmed just that. Valade quoted Brown as saying:
“He’s our top pick. He’s the No. 1 pick in the draft, so he’s going to get plenty of opportunity. I’m going to give him plenty of opportunity. But, as you can see, I’m not going to give him a free pass.”
It seems pretty clear that it is a pride issue with Bennett for the Cavs. Seeing as he has still hasn’t been relegated to the Charge during the Cavs five game home stand, it seems unlikely that it happens at all. With Bennett only getting five minutes of garbage time in the blowout win over the Milwaukee Bucks on Friday, it’s pretty evident we won’t be seeing much more of Bennett this season, which would likely give him the crown for worst rookie season by a number one overall pick in history.
Follow Wade Foley on Twitter @WFoley22