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3 Ways Cleveland Cavaliers Can Salvage Anthony Bennett's Rookie Season

Yahoo Contributor Network
Cleveland Cavaliers: Anthony Bennett Finally Has Some Fun, Earns First Career Double-Double
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Bennett was the Cavaliers' first overall pick in 2013.

COMMENTARY | The Cleveland Cavaliers are currently butchering Anthony Bennett's career.

While the first overall pick of the 2013 NBA draft has been awful during his time on the court, the Cavs are doing absolutely nothing right now to assist in his development.

In fact, they seem to be holding him back.

Since the trade for Luol Deng, Bennett has completely fallen out of the team's rotation. He's played just five total minutes in the past seven games, seeing action in the fourth quarter of a runaway win against the Milwaukee Bucks.

We know Bennett isn't good right now, but how is a 20-year-old with upside supposed to improve without any game action?

The Cavs have refused to send him to the NBA Developmental League, even though Bennett's stated that he'd be OK with it. Head coach Mike Brown even said, "I'm going to give him plenty of opportunity," although this hasn't been the case.

Off to a terrible start to his career, the Cavs can still turn things around with Bennett, and here's how:

1. Send Bennett to the D-League

This should have been done immediately following the trade for Deng, if not sooner.

Bennett has incredible talent, as evidenced by his freshman season at UNLV. Any game or highlight film of his time there will tell you that.

What he doesn't have right now, is confidence in himself.

With the Cavaliers, he's averaging 2.4 points, 2.3 rebounds and 0.2 assists while shooting 25.9 percent from the field. Last season, Kevin Jones, also an undersized power forward, was putting up a very similar stat line of 3.0 points and 2.4 rebounds for the Cavs.

Jones, who went undrafted in 2012, is now thriving in Canton with the Charge. He's currently averaging 16.1 points and 7.2 rebounds in just 29.8 minutes a game. Imagine what Bennett, taken 60 places ahead of Jones, could do with the same opportunity.

In Canton, Bennett could get all the playing time needed to build back his confidence, fix his shot, and improve his conditioning.

The sooner the Cavs send him down, the better.

2. Recall Bennett, Swap with Earl Clark in Rotation

After about a month or so, the Cavs should recall Bennett when he's gotten his shot and confidence back.

Cleveland should then play him strictly as a power forward off the bench. Since Earl Clark is currently the backup to Tristan Thompson, the Cavs should look to trade or even release him. He's been awful, anyways.

Given Clark's minutes of 16.0 per game, Bennett would finally be getting consistent playing time at the NBA level. No more just coming in at the end of a blowout when the game's already been decided.

Whether the Cavs are in the playoff race or not, developing Bennett instead of Clark is going to give them the best shot to win, both now and in the future.

3. Get Bennett Involved in the Offense

The times Bennett has gotten in meaningful games, he seems to be an afterthought on offense.

At 6-8 and 245 pounds with a jumper, Bennett is perfect for the pick-and-roll. Cleveland brings Dion Waiters and Jarrett Jack off the bench, both of whom could run this with Bennett.

In college, Bennett was terrific at attacking the basket and knocking down jumpers. There's no reason to believe he couldn't do the same at the NBA level with enough practice.

Too often, Cleveland has tried to stick Bennett at the three-point line, where he's shooting just 14.3 percent. They need him in as many pick-and-roll and post plays as possible, getting easy baskets and continuing to build back his confidence.

Just getting back into a rhythm on the court and feeling more comfortable would do wonders for Bennett and his game.

By sitting him on the bench with no game action, the Cavs are only hurting themselves and Bennett's career.

Following these steps could change all of that.

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Greg Swartz is a Northeast Ohio native who covers the Cleveland Cavaliers and NBA on the Yahoo Contributor Network and Bleacher Report. You can find a collection of his articles here and join him on Twitter for more NBA news.

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