How Cavaliers handle Bennett is now everyone’s guess
A few (more) random hits on the Cavaliers:
• Everybody has an opinion on what the Cavs should do with Anthony Bennett (including me). Start him at small forward. Demote him to the D-League. Give him a few scoops of ice cream and a pinch to the cheeks.
• Is this the way it goes in every profession? I mean, does the entire nation suddenly behave like licensed psychologists when a 20-year old techie fails to deliver riveting software a month into his new job?
• I’m not actually qualified to answer that, since the only thing I know about computers is I’m a lousy typist.
• Of course, bossing around teams and acting like we’d know exactly how to handle these situations is part of what makes sports so much fun. That’s why we have fantasy leagues. We get to play owner, front office, coach and team shrink all in one.
• Based on my fantasy football teams, you should say a large prayer of thanks that I’m not running the Cavs. (And I’ll tell you this much: I’d sure like to get my hands on the guys who wrote the fantasy magazine on which I based my draft.)
• Anyway, back to Bennett. He’s a rookie power forward, the No. 1 overall pick in the 2013 NBA Draft. The Cavs had their choice of anyone. They picked Bennett. He’s averaging 2.2 points, 2.6 rebounds and shooting a wretched 22 percent from the field. Those are the facts and they cannot be disputed.
• In training camp and early in the season, Brown insisted Bennett was a power forward. Brown said the Cavs could afford to be patient because of their depth in the frontcourt. But they’re 5-12. Teams with great depth typically don’t lose twice as much as they win. I thought the Cavs were especially deep, too. So far, I’ve been wrong.
• Instead, they seem to have a bunch of guys who look about the same (with the exception of Kyrie Irving, Andrew Bynum and lately, Dion Waiters). Part of that could be the result of a new coach and a new system. Part of it could be the result of just not having enough talent. We’ll find out which is which soon enough, because the new coach and new system can be overcome. The other stuff … not so much.
• No one outside of Irving has been consistently good for the Cavs. And even Kyrie hasn’t been the same old Kyrie. As for small forward, Brown tried Earl Clark, but has since shifted Clark primarily to power forward off the bench. Now it’s Alonzo Gee, who started at small forward last season. This past summer, one scout told me he didn’t care what other moves the Cavs made, “if they’re still starting (Gee) at small forward, they’re not gonna be that great.”
• Gee was the Cavs’ best defender last year. But that’s like saying a guy who is learning how to play the guitar is a better musician than someone who bangs on a garbage can and belches. This year, Bynum makes far and away the most impact on defense, and he’s still playing his way back into game shape after a year off.
• Bennett is certainly no great shakes on defense. But he hasn’t really been given the minutes to be awful. Brown has even complimented Bennett’s D, saying the rookie looked better than expected early in the season.
• Offensively, well, you’ve seen it. Bennett has been a basketball disaster. He’s heaving up airballs, clanking 3-pointers (3-of-18 for the year), stepping on the out-of-bounds line when he starts a move to the basket … on and on it goes.
• C.J. Miles also played small forward but is now the starting shooting guard. So as far as small forwards go, that pretty much leaves Gee. And maybe now, Bennett.
• A quick look at the numbers, of course, tells us Bennett is not starting material. Then again, if you’re talking about stats, neither was undrafted rookie point guard Matthew Dellavedova — who started a game at shooting guard. Rookie swingman Sergey Karasev has also started there. About the only guy who doesn’t start there anymore is Waiters.
• This actually sounds a lot worse than it is. Then again, until Saturday’s win over the Bulls, things sure looked pretty bad.
• What’s this have to do with Bennett? Well, suddenly the Cavs could really use him. Since the goal apparently is to reach the playoffs, they could afford some immediate help. That’s different than the original plan — which was for Gee and Clark to hold down the small forward spot, and the Cavs to receive the luxury of bringing Bennett along slowly.
• So, what do the Cavs do with Bennett now? We’re about to find out. Brown dropped hints about Bynum’s return right before the first game of season, and Bynum made his return in that very game. The coach has been dropping hints about Bennett playing small forward (and Bennett has now played there in an actual game).
• Personally, I wouldn’t be surprised to see Bennett starting as soon as Wednesday against the Nuggets. I’m not saying it’s definitely happening, but I think it could. Just like everything else with Bennett at the moment, it’s up in the air and the Cavs will let the rest of the world figure it out in fantasyland until they’re ready to make a real call. That’s unquestionably the best way to handle it. Especially if you’ve seen some of our fantasy teams.