Six players the Cleveland Cavaliers missed out on in the NBA Draft

Anthony Bennett of the Cleveland Cavaliers (right) poses for a photo at the 2013 NBA Draft. (Photo by Mike Stobe/Getty Images)
Anthony Bennett of the Cleveland Cavaliers (right) poses for a photo at the 2013 NBA Draft. (Photo by Mike Stobe/Getty Images) /
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Kobe Bryant, Cleveland Cavaliers
Los Angeles Lakers guard Kobe Bryant backs in against Cleveland Cavaliers forward LeBron James. (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images) /

Player #1 the Cleveland Cavaliers missed out on drafting: Kobe Bryant

The first player and possibly the biggest miss in Cavalier history is the late Kobe Bryant. As any basketball fan knows, Bryant is one of the greatest players in NBA history and is a player who absolutely dominated the entire decade of the 2000s.

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In the 1996 NBA draft, Kobe Bryant was an interesting prospect who went to the NBA straight from high school. As a result of this, he slipped to later in the lottery in what was one of the most stacked draft classes in NBA history.

In this draft, the Cavaliers selected Vitaly Potapenko from Wright State University with the 12th overall pick. With the 13th overall pick, the Charlotte Hornets would select Bryant from Lower Merion High School, and he would eventually land the Los Angeles Lakers via trade, the team that he played his entire career with.

While it was not known at the time, Kobe would go on to be a five-time NBA champion and the closest thing of a reincarnation of Michael Jordan that we will ever see from a play style standpoint.

Bryant went on to total 33,643 points, 7,074 rebounds, 6,306 assists and averaged 25.0 points, 5.2 rebounds and 4.7 assists. When comparing this to the totals and averages of Potapenko it makes the pick look laughable and objectively speaking is an extremely unfair comparison for Potapenko. However, he totaled 3,995 points, 2,725 rebounds, and 418 assists on averages of 6.5 points, 4.5 rebounds and 0.7 assists a game.

This is one of, if not the biggest miss the Cavs have ever made in the NBA Draft and it only rubs salt in the wound knowing that an NBA legend like Kobe Bryant was only one pick away and could have been enough to even push the Chicago Bulls during their run of dominance in the second time post-first Jordan retirement in the late 90s.

That’s if Bryant could make the Cavs into a contender early on, of course, in the last two years of Chicago’s second three-peat.