Cleveland Cavaliers: The all-time ‘ones who got away’ team

Photo by Hannah Foslien/Getty Images
Photo by Hannah Foslien/Getty Images /
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Cleveland Cavaliers
Cleveland Cavaliers Ron Harper (Photo by Dick Raphael/NBAE via Getty Images) /

The term “ones the got away” refers to players who were drafted by the Cleveland Cavaliers but never played for them, or played very sparingly and went onto be successful elsewhere.

I broke down the Cleveland Cavaliers’ all-time “ones who got away” team by position. First we’ll start with the guards.


Kevin Johnson, Seventh overall selection, 1987

Stats with Cavs: 52 games, 7.3 points per game / 1.5 rebounds / 3.4 assists

Stats with Phoenix Suns: 735 games, 18.7 ppg / 3.4 rebounds / 9.5 assists. Three-time All-Star. Four-time All-NBA second team.

Before being voted Mayor of Sacramento, California, Kevin Johnson was an All-NBA guard for the Phoenix Suns. Johnson played along Charles Barkley and helped lead the 1992-93 Suns to a 62-20 record, which was best in the NBA. A prolific passer, Johnson averaged double-digit assists four straight seasons from 1988-1992.

Before becoming one of only three NBA players to ever average over 20.0 points and 12.0 assists in a season, Johnson was a first-round selection by the Cleveland Cavaliers who played in 52 games as Mark Price‘s backup. Johnson, along with Mark West, Tyrone Corbin and a future pick were sent to Phoenix for Larry Nance, Mike Sanders, and a future pick (per initially The New York Times’ Sam Goldaper).

Jamal Crawford, Eighth overall selection, 2000

Career stats: 14.8 ppg / 2.2 rebounds / 3.4 assists. Three-time Sixth Man of the year

The 19-year vet has played for eight different teams and is still known for his smooth but lethal crossover. Jamal Crawford had some of his most prolific stats as a member of the New York Knicks when he averaged over 17.6 points per game in a five-season run. Crawford was also a key contributor as a sixth man for the Los Angeles Clippers and averaged 15.3 points in five seasons, mostly coming off the bench.

Crawford was drafted by the Cleveland Cavaliers and traded on draft night for big man Chris Mihm, a center from Texas (per Mihm had a somewhat decent NBA career, averaging 7.5 points a night and 5.3 boards in nine seasons. He was traded by the Cavs during his fourth year to the Celtics in a deal that sent Mihm, Ricky Davis and a pick for Boston for Eric Williams, Tony Battie and Kendrick Brown (per Tom Withers of the Associated Press).

Ron Harper: Eighth overall selection, 1986

Stats with Cleveland: 228 games played / 19.4 points per game / 4.7 rebounds / 5.1 assists

Career stats: 13.8 points per game / 4.3 rebounds / 3.9 assists. Five-time NBA champion.

Ron Harper, an Ohio native, had a very productive 3+ seasons in Cleveland averaging 19.4 points, 4.7 boards and 5.1 assists. Despite this, the Cavs chose to trade him to the Los Angeles Clippers in exchange for Danny Ferry and Reggie Williams (per The UPI Archives). Both Ferry and Williams were solid players but not close to Harper.

Harper had his best offensive seasons with the Clippers averaging 19.3 points a night. Harper went on to win five NBA championships, three of which came with the Chicago Bulls and two with the Los Angeles Lakers.