Cleveland Cavaliers: 10 best players all-time taken at No. 3 in NBA Draft

Photo credit should read DOUG COLLIER/AFP via Getty Images
Photo credit should read DOUG COLLIER/AFP via Getty Images /
1 of 6

The Cleveland Cavaliers head into the 2021 NBA Draft armed with the No. 3 overall picking. Barring a trade, that is where they will select a player who hopefully will help turn the fortunes of this franchise around. It will be only the second time in franchise history that the Cavs have chosen third in a draft.

The process for the Cavaliers will be evaluating each and every prospect in the draft to determine who is worthy of the third overall pick. To some extent they will also consider fit, positional value and the players leaguewide who might be available in free agency or via trade. Most likely they will not consider the historical results of players taken at No. 3 in the NBA Draft.

History presents a strong collection of stars taken third overall. Who just misses out on the Top 10?

Even if the Cavaliers won’t, we will consider the very best that the third overall pick has had to offer. In recent years it has twice produced the valuable player in the draft, in 2018 with Luka Doncic and most recently in 2020 with LaMelo Ball, the early frontrunner for that class.

A number of other active stars were taken with the third pick in the draft. Jayson Tatum, Bradley Beal and Jaylen Brown have all made All-Star teams after being taken third overall by the team they currently play for. Al Horford and Derrick Favors mark active bigs taken third. Joel Embiid just finished as the runner-up in MVP voting and was the third pick in the 2014 NBA Draft.

Looking further back, well-known players such as Anfernee “Penny” Hardaway and “Pistol” Pete Maravich came into the league as the third pick in their respective drafts.

As the Cavaliers hope to hit the jackpot with the third pick, which players at that slot have gone on to have the best careers? Everyone likely knows who to expect at number one, but the rest of the top 10 contains a plethora of champions, Hall of Famers and big shot takers (and makers). We start with a couple of prolific scorers at the back end of our Top 10 players of all-time taken with the No. 3 pick.