Cleveland Cavaliers: 15 greatest draft steals in franchise history

Zydrunas Ilgauskas of the Cleveland Cavaliers. (Photo by David Dow/NBAE via Getty Images)
Zydrunas Ilgauskas of the Cleveland Cavaliers. (Photo by David Dow/NBAE via Getty Images) /
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Carlos Boozer, Cleveland Cavaliers
Carlos Boozer, Cleveland Cavaliers. (Photo by Fernando Medina/NBAE/Getty Images) /
  • Two seasons w/Cavaliers (2002-04)
  • NBA All-Rookie Second Team (2002-03)
  • 156 career games w/Cavaliers
  • 12.6 points, 9.4 rebounds, 1.6 assists per game w/Cavaliers

Carlos Boozer is best known for playing on championship-caliber teams in college at Duke, as well as being bruising power forward for the Utah Jazz and the Chicago Bulls in his professional career. Before he was dying his hair, Boozer was actually a second-round pick out of Duke in 2002 by the Cavaliers.

Taken at No. 35 overall, some people wondered if the Juneau, Alaska native made the right decision to leave Duke a year early after his junior season. While he may not have had the draft pedigree of his teammates Jay Williams and Mike Dunleavy Jr., Boozer would have the better NBA career of the trio.

Boozer only played two seasons with the Cavaliers, but 13-year NBA career got off to a great start in Cleveland. He made the All-Rookie Second Team in 2002-03, as he averaged 10.0 points and 7.5 rebounds for the Cavaliers. That would be the lowest points per game total he ever put together in an NBA season.

In what was his final season in Cleveland, Boozer averaged 15.5 points and 11.7 rebounds for the 2003-04 Cavaliers. He would leave for the Jazz in a highly controversial restricted free agency in 2004. Boozer ended up averaging 12.6 points, 9.4 rebounds and 1.6 assists per game over 156 contests in Cavaliers uniform.

It would be in Salt Lake City where Boozer found his greatest level of NBA success. He was a two-time All-Star for the Jazz in 2006-07 and 2007-08, winning Olympic Gold as a member of Team USA in the 2008 Beijing Games. Boozer would leave Utah in 2010 to play four years with the Bulls and one forgettable year with the 2014-15 Los Angeles Lakers before retiring.

Overall, Boozer’s inclusion on this all-time list is as controversial as his 2004 restricted free agency departure in 2004. He might have only played two years with the team, but was an All-Rookie team member. Given that he was a second-round pick that went on to be an Olympic champion, we can consider Boozer a draft steal, even though his best NBA days were in Salt Lake.