Rod Benson Says He's 'Done' With NBA D-League
Benson informed FanHouse that he is "done" with the D-League and will not be returning next season after his team, the Reno Bighorns, fell to the Rio Grande Valley Vipers on Tuesday, completing a three-game series in which he averaged 24 points and 16.3 rebounds per game.
This is not the first time Benson has claimed he is through with the NBA's Development League, but after four seasons of stellar play, Benson says he has "come to terms" with the fact that he is unlikely to be called up, especially in light of how many other big men have been called up this season. Benson had an unsuccessful stint in Europe earlier last year that brought him back to the NBA D-League but sounds much more convinced that it's time to move on.
Benson, despite being arguably the most instinctive rebounder in the history of the NBA D-League and one of the most productive players in the league night in and night out, has his name met with skepticism from scouts. Discussions don't revolve around his physical nature, which he's improved upon in his time in the league. Instead, critics point to him "not being a winner," and being "too smart for his own good."
Put crudely, this is a load of crap.
Benson has won a D-League championship. He was a successful college player. He's been to the playoffs each year but last year with the then-expansion Bighorns. He was 10th all-time in Win Shares, a number which likely only went up this season. And as for being "too smart," isn't that what you want in a player? To be a smart guy you can depend on, not a knucklehead? It's simply absurd. Any possible limitations for Benson are things that can still be coached into him at the tender age of 26.
The common thought is that Benson's outspoken personality as a blogger may have hurt him in discussions with teams, leading to his ban on such behavior during a training camp stint with the Pacers.
But forget the blogging, or the videos, or any of it. Rod Benson can play. There's no way to look at his rebounding numbers -- he's averaged 8.9 boards in 27.6 minutes over four years in the D-League -- and not think he can play. It was the hope of those that have watched Benson grow and develop that a smart team with long-term thinking would recognize the opportunity with Benson and invest in him, but that never came, as lesser players were called up.
Now the league is in danger of letting a tremendously talented athlete slip from its fingers, and one that brings with him at least a small level of recognition. It's still possible a team will commit to Benson for a training camp, but he appears to have hit his limit. You can't blame Benson for wanting greener pastures. But no matter what the scouting reports say, or the feelings of the GM, take a look at the numbers. Watch the tape. Letting Benson go is a failure, NBA general managers. Hopefully Benson won't have to be a learning experience in recognizing talent.