Over the last ten years Cavaliers fans across the world have seen their team push through a series of peaks and valleys on their way to becoming one of the most elite franchises in the National Basketball Association. Many players and coaches have played an integral role in putting Cleveland basketball back on the map and, as this decade comes to a close, the Gospel looks to honor some of these people with a spot on our All-Decade Team.
Head Coach- Mike Brown
In his four full seasons as head coach of the Cleveland Cavaliers, Mike Brown has led his teams to a 211-117 (.643) record. With Brown at the helm beginning in 2005, the Cavs made their first postseason appearance since 1998. Brown became the winningest first-year coach in team history and just the third Cavs’ head coach to lead his team to the playoffs in his first NBA season. The Wine and Gold reached the NBA Finals for the first time in franchise history in 2007 after beating the Washington Wizards, New Jersey Nets and Detroit Pistons to claim the team’s first Eastern Conference Championship. Brown was named the NBA’s Coach of the Year following the 2008-09 season. Under Coach Brown, the Cavs have never missed the playoffs and have been built into one of the league’s best teams.
Other Notable Coaches: Paul Silas
Guard- Andre Miller #24
In three seasons with the Cleveland Cavaliers, Andre Miller averaged about 16 points and 9.5 assists per contest. He appeared in all 82 games with the Cavaliers during his rookie season and was selected to the NBA All-Rookie First Team. Miller started all 82 games during his sophomore campaign and ranked sixth in the NBA with an even 8 assists per night. In his third and final season as a member of the Wine and Gold, Miller started all but one game while averaging 16.5 points along with career highs in assists (10.9 APG), rebounds (4.7 RPG) and steals (1.56 SPG) in 37.3 minutes per game.
Guard- Mo Williams #2
In August 2008, Cleveland was able to acquire Mo Williams from the Milwaukee Bucks in exchange for Damon Jones. Last season, Mo played in a career-high 81 games and averaged a career-best 17.8 points per game on 46.7% shooting. He ranked second among Eastern Conference point guards in scoring and ranked eleventh in three-point shooting at 43.6% while increasing his three-point percentage each full month of the season. The 6’ 1” Alabama native shot a career best 91.2% from the free throw line which ranked fourth in the NBA and was the fourth best mark in franchise history. In the Cavs’ 66-win season, Mo combined with LeBron James to produce the league’s highest scoring duo at 46.2 points per game in the regular season. Williams was also named to the 2009 NBA All-Star Game for the Eastern Conference, the first All-Star appearance of his career.
Other Notable Guards: Eric Snow, Ricky Davis, Delonte West
Forward- LeBron James #23
After being selected as the number one pick in the 2003 NBA Draft by the Cavaliers, the self-proclaimed King has averaged 27.6 points, 6.8 assists and an even 7 rebounds per game. He has played in over 500 games for the Cavs and has made appearances in five consecutive All-Star games. James holds the franchise record for points scored (12,993), scoring average (27.5), field goals made (4,647), free throws made (3,057), and steals (830). The Chosen One was named the NBA’s Most Valuable Player last season and continues to leave Cleveland fans in awe with his high flying dunks and his ability to take over games late in the fourth quarter to lead his team to victory.
Forward- Drew Gooden #90
I had originally told Carlos Boozer that he was going to get one of the forward spots on the Gospel’s All-Decade team. But I guess I lied.
As a member of the Cleveland Cavaliers, Drew Gooden averaged about 11.5 points and 8.5 rebounds per contest. During the 2006-07 season, Gooden started 80 games and averaged 11.1 points per game and a team-high 8.5 rebounds. He ranked fifth in the league with 263 offensive rebounds and posted a team-best 25 double-doubles on the season. Well known for the awkward patch of hair on the lower part of his otherwise bald head, Drew’s best game came in the 2007 playoffs when he poured in 24 points and snagged 16 rebounds in the win.
Other Notable Forwards: Anderson Varejao, Carlos Boozer, Lamond Murray
Center- Zydrunas Ilgauskas #11
Zydrunas Ilgauskas has stuck with the Cavaliers through thick and thin. Over his fourteen year career with the Wine and Gold, Big Z has averaged better than 14 points and 7 rebounds per game. Ilgauskas holds the franchise record for blocked shots (1,219), offensive rebounds (2,222), total rebounds (5,559), and passed Danny Ferry this season for the franchise leader in games played. He recently surpassed Brad Daugherty to move into second place on the franchise’s all-time scoring list.
Z’s value to the Cavaliers’ franchise extends far beyond his production on the floor. Ilgauskas has fought through five foot surgeries and has remained loyal to the Cavaliers every step of the way. He is well respected by each member of his team and is a true class act.