In this series, Hiroki Witt will be ranking each of the Cleveland Cavaliers First Round Draft Picks since 1990. This series will include Cavs that came over on a draft night trade (i.e. Tyler Zeller). How they are ranked is based on the impact they had while on the Cavs roster. Sorry, I won’t be taking Trajan Langdon’s CSKA career into account when ranking. Coming in second to last is former Oregon Duck Luke Jackson.
I mean, ugh.
I had trouble deciding who to put at this slot. There were a lot of guys that totally flopped on production (Sergey Karasev, Trajan Langdon) and others that had disappointing careers (DaJuan Wagner), but I’ll try to stick with a guy that was a combination of both–a guy put in a great situation to be something very good, but that was a total flop in terms of potential and production.
Let’s set the stage for this one.
The year is 2004. The Cavaliers had just come off their most successful draft pick in team history with No. 1 in 2003; if you can’t remember his name, I’m not sure why you’re on this site.
The Cavs finished with a promising 35–47 record, and the talented youngster named LeBron was a blossoming superstar. They had the 10th overall pick in the draft and with it were looking to give LeBron the perfect sidekick – the Pippen to his Jordan, the Peanut Butter to his Jelly, the Pikachu to his Ash. Now in a draft chock full of with guys that were all about their “potential” (the guys taken right after Jackson were Andris “I’m really tall” Biedrins, Robert “I’m also tall” Swift and Sebastian “I’m overhyped” Telfair), Oregon’s Luke Jackson, coming off a season where he averaged 21.2 PPG, 7.2 RPG and 4.5 APG, was seen as one of the “safe” picks of the draft–a prolific college player who stuffed the stat sheet while demonstrating a good mix of skill and athleticism. As the draft went on, Jackson seemed like a great pick–a guy that could jump right into the developing nucleus of the Cavs and help them develop into something great for years to come.
At least, that’s how it theoretically should have gone.
Instead, injuries happened.
Immediately in his rookie year he was crippled by two slipped discs in his back, limiting him to just 10 games that season. Jackson was able to play 36 games in the 2005-06 season, but never got any consistent play; he averaged only about nine minutes a game that year. He was then traded, along with cash, to the Celtics for Dwayne Jones.
After this Jackson never really could get any traction with any team; he looked to finally be gaining a little momentum with the Miami Heat, but his career ultimately fizzled out with little progress. He managed to produce pretty well for a few years in the D-League, but more health problems halted his career, and he now is working as a coach at Northwest Christian University.
As for his career with the Cavaliers, he was a flop of quite massive proportions, and it’s unfortunate and somewhat ironic that after being seen as a “safe” option, he was anything but that. After taking so many high-upside high schoolers/one-and-done guys (Ricky Davis, DaJuan Wagner, Darius Miles), Jackson should have been a guy who stepped in and gave the Cavaliers guaranteed production. Instead, after two injury-plagued seasons he was traded WITH cash for a guy that was a career 1.3 PPG scorer. I like to think that the Cavs were hoping to get production somewhere along the lines of Chandler Parsons–a SF type that can provide good scoring and contribute a little bit all over the stat sheet. Unfortunately, we instead got a guy that had no impact on the Cavaliers whatsoever, and that lands him at the No. 22 spot on this list.