The NBA Draft is something of a gamble every year for every team. For every can’t-miss prospect who fits the bill, there are others who absolutely fall on their face. The Cleveland Cavaliers made four No. 1 overall picks this century; one is the greatest player in the history of the NBA, one is a multi-time All-Star, one finally settled in as an elite role player and the last one is….well, Anthony Bennett is playing in Taiwan this season.
The goal in the NBA Draft is to pick the best available player given the information at hand. Sometimes that seems easy, and other times it’s much more difficult. Who do you take fourth in a three-person draft? What if the best player available plays the same position as last year’s pick? At what point in the draft does it make sense to take a player with a high floor over the possibility of a high ceiling?
Acing a draft pick can change your franchise
Teams have been making blunders in the NBA Draft since it was first implemented, but sometimes they absolutely nail their pick and take the absolute best player available. That has certainly happened to the Cleveland Cavaliers at least a few times in the history of their team, and those players have helped to spark some of the highest heights in franchise history.
Let’s look at five times the Cavaliers aced the draft and took a franchise-defining player. We are focusing on players that either vastly exceeded their draft slot or, in the case of picks at the top of the draft, met expectations for an elite pick. We’re going to focus on players that also made an impact for the Cavs specifically; if the Cavs took a player but moved on from him before they fully realized their abilities they don’t get as much credit.
To that end, honorable mentions go out to Carlos Boozer, Danny Green and Bill Laimbeer who all well outplayed their second-round draft selection (Laimbeer actually went in the third round in 1979), as well as Andre Miller (8th pick) and Kevin Johnson (7th) who played to their draft selection but mostly excelled on other teams.
Without further ado, the five times the Cleveland Cavaliers aced the NBA Draft.