4. Dajuan Wagner, 2002 – Rd 1, Pick 6
Dajuan Wagner entered the 2002 NBA Draft after a terrific college season in Memphis, averaging 21.9 points per game. The young shooting guard was praised for his athleticism and offensive potential, even with his shot selection and 3-point consistency needing work. As a team struggling to find any real success, the Cavaliers chose Wagner sixth overall only to see his career quickly fall apart due to injury and health problems.
Wagner never played more than 47 games in a season and only averaged more than 10 points per game in his rookie season. In the 2004-05 season, Wagner appeared in only 11 games. Falling sick and missing the entire next season, he never returned to Cleveland. While Wagner was a bust, the causes of his short NBA career were not entirely under his control.
3. Luke Jackson, 2004 – Rd 1, Pick 10
One year after drafting the 2003-04 Rookie of the Year in LeBron James, the Cavaliers had another top 10 pick and selected Luke Jackson out of Oregon. Jackson was expected to be an instant 3-point threat in the NBA. Paired alongside another rising star forward, he was expected to thrive in Cleveland. Jackson entered the 2004 NBA Draft after a full collegiate career, scoring 21.4 points per game in his final season.
ESPN viewed Jackson as a fantastic passer at the forward position, but his defensive weaknesses did not go unnoticed. The hope was that his offensive versatility and shooting would make up for his failures. Unfortunately, he never met these expectations. Jackson shot a career 36 percent from deep on very low volume, and Jackson fizzled out of the league after only four seasons.
Cleveland’s failure with Jackson was an early mistake in their flawed attempts to build around LeBron in his early years.