Four games in, and first overall pick in this past summer's NBA Draft, Anthony Bennett, has yet to make a basket for the Cleveland Cavaliers.
In one of the worst slumps for a rookie of his caliber to start the season, Bennett has missed all 15 of his shot attempts, including 8 from behind the arc.
But this certainly isn't the time for Cavliers' fans for panic at all. There's no need to talk anyone off the ledge. In fact, the team has officially embarked on what could be their most promising and/or successful season in many years. With Kyrie Irving continuing to emerge and grow into a true superstar, Cleveland has one of the best players in all of the NBA leading the charge. Many analysts even believe the young gun will lead the Cavs to a playoff appearance this season.
Interestingly enough, Irving won't likely have to carry the team on his back. Instead, he should stand to receive help along the way. The guard is surrounded by a steady group of running mates and solid role players, including the likes of Dion Waters, Anderson Varejao, Tristan Thompson, C.J. Miles, Earl Clark, and Jarrett Jack.
The talent level is there. There's no question about that. Even former NBA All-Star center Andrew Bynum is in town as he looks to bounce back from a couple of injury-riddled years and reclaim some form of dominance.
If nothing else, the 2-2 Cavaliers have the potential for tremendous depth. Much of that can be found in the front court, with Thompson and Varejao starting, and quality guys like Bynum and Clark coming off the bench.
Both of the aforementioned guys in reserve roles have the potential to earn even more minutes as the season continues. If such players (especially guys like Varejao and Bynum) stay healthy (that's obviously a big if), where are the minutes for the rookie Bennett?
With Cleveland eyeing its best opportunity to compete and make some noise this season, does the team have the flexibility to stay patient and allow Bennett to play out of his slump?
Should the answer to that question eventually (depending on how long such a slump continues) become no, there are other options with regard to helping Bennett along besides forcing him to ride the bench and not receive enough reps on the court.
Of course, there's always the NBA D-League. Again, that's not to say that Cavaliers' fans should panic or that going to the minor league should be considered a negative thing by any means. Bennett doesn't "deserve" it, simply due to an early slump. It shouldn't be considered a punishment.
Suggesting Bennett hit the hardwood in the NBADL has much less to do with his struggles than it does the lack of minutes to potentially go around. His slump aside, the big man will undoubtedly benefit from more time on the court, rather than just sitting on the sideline and taking notes. Through four games, he's only averaged 12.5 minutes per contest.
Should everyone continue to stay healthy and the Cavs remain in prime position to compete for a playoff spot, the D-League could emerge as Bennett's best option to receive the necessary time and attention (on and off the court) he needs to grow.