After breaking down the 19th pick, the 31st pick and the 33rd pick, Right Down Euclid’s Chris Manning is back to do a three-part series on the No. 1 overall pick. In this post — the first of three — takes a look at the previous No. 1 picks in Cavaliers franchise history.
As I’m sure you’ve heard by now, the Cleveland Cavaliers will, for the second time in three years, select No. 1 overall. Historically, this is the fifth time the Cavaliers have held the first overall pick. Whoever joins Austin Carr, Brad Daugherty, LeBron James and Kyrie Irving as a top pick will (due to Irving’s face of the franchise status) have the least amount of pressure on their shoulders coming into their rookie season.
Without further adieu, take a look at the pervious first-round picks in Cavaliers history.
1971: Austin Carr, SG, Notre Dame
Career Stats: 10, 473 career points, 44.9 percent field goal shooting, 15.4 pecent three-point shooting, 80.4 percent free throw shooting
To put it simply, Carr was much better in college than he ever was in the pros. When he left Notre Dame, his career scoring average of 34.5 points per game was fifth all-time in college basketball. To this day, he holds tournament records for most points scored in one game (61), field goals made in one game (25) and most field goals attempted in one game (44). But in the NBA, knee and foot surgeries slowed a rookie season that ended in an appearance on the 1972 NBA All-Rookie team. By 1981 Carr was out of the league with pedestrian career averages of 15.4 points, 2.9 rebounds and 2.8 assists. That’s not, historically, production you would hope to get out of your No. 1 pick.
1986: Brad Daugherty, C, North Carolina
Career Stats: 10,389 points, 4,020 rebounds, 53.2 percent field goal shooting, 397 blocks
Daugherty was part of the late 80s/early 90s Cavaliers teams that were arguably the best in franchise history. Like his predecessor Carr, the former Tar Heel had his career cut short at age 28 due to back problems. After the 1993-94 season, he sat out two more seasons before officially retiring after the 19935-96 season. In 2000, Daugherty was a unanimous selection to the All-Time Cleveland Cavaliers team, and until 2008, he was the Cavaliers all-time leading rebounder. But while he was better than Carr, the injuries that ended his career kept him from reaching his full potential.
2003: LeBron James, SF, St. Vincent St. Mary High School
Career Stats: 27.6 PPG, 6.9 APG, 7.3 RPG, 49.0 percent field goal shooting, 9 All-Star appearances
James, without a doubt, is the best No. 1 pick in Cavaliers history. Even though he took his talents to South Beach in the summer of 2009, he inarguably accomplished more than his fellow Cavalier No. 1 picks. He took a pretty average Cavaliers team to the Finals in 2007 and almost took that team back a year later. He, regardless of what you think of him as a person, accomplished amazing things during his times on the shores of Lake Erie. Take any other premier talent on a team that overspent on average players, and you’d get pretty similar results. Plus, remember one cold, hard fact: LeBron James is the best player on the planet right now and it’s not even close.
2011: Kyrie Irving, PG, Duke
Career Stats: 20.6 PPG, 5.7 APG, 45.9 percent field goal shooting, 39.1 percent three-point shooting, All-Star appearance
Irving (who the Cavaliers were beyond lucky to get) is still too young in his NBA career to be judged. The biggest concern about his game are the injuries. Granted some of them have been freak, but with another major injury, he’ll likely take on the injury-prone label that is impossible to shake. But when he’s healthy, it’s crystal clear that he has the potential to be the best point guard in the league and is probably top five right now. The jury is still out, but there is legitimate hope that he can lead this franchise back to the Finals and maybe even win one. But again, it’s pretty black and white with Irving. Either he takes the LeBron route and shoots up to stardom or ends up like Carr and Daugherty with his career cut short by injuries.