2. Dion Waiters, 2012 – Rd 1, Pick 4
Shortly after LeBron’s first departure from Cleveland, the Cavs selected another future All-Star in Kyrie Irving first overall in the 2011 NBA Draft. His talent was instantly realized, and Irving looked to be the perfect leader for the next era in Cavaliers basketball. The mission then shifted to finding his running mate.
In the following draft, the Cavaliers took another short guard at fourth overall in Dion Waiters. Did Waiters project to become a future Hall of Fame small shooting guard like Dwyane Wade, at least? No. Waiters was clearly a role player, while other future stars such as Damian Lillard (sixth overall) and Draymond Green (35th overall) were still available. Obviously, hindsight is not present in the moment, and the heights which other prospects would reach could not be predicted then.
Waiters was not a horrendous NBA player and did succeed as a journeyman for a while. In Cleveland, though, his pairing next to Irving was clunky and hurt the team the following season more than it helped. Waiters was traded to the OKC Thunder in his third season, making him another failed prospect.
What makes Waiters worse than others ranked lower is how early he was selected and the fact scouts already recognized his lower ceiling than others in the draft. It was a poor decision by the Cavaliers that was easily avoidable.
Finally, the Cavs might have the worst draft bust of the 21st century only one year later. Perhaps selecting a better option than Waiters could have prevented this.