Top five Cleveland Cavaliers role players of all-time

Tristan Thompson, Cleveland Cavaliers. Photo by Jonathan Bachman/Getty Images
Tristan Thompson, Cleveland Cavaliers. Photo by Jonathan Bachman/Getty Images /
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Ten names could easily have made the top five role players in Cleveland Cavaliers history. These guys are the security blankets of the stars, bailing them out with big shots, key offensive rebounds or pivotal stops. In six different decades, the organization has had quality players star in their duty to help the Cavaliers get to the Finals, Playoffs or just through the year.

The term “role player” often gets treated like a dirty phrase when using it to label an athlete. But it shouldn’t be because, in the NBA, 85% of the players are role guys. The background players, similar to band performers who aren’t the lead singer or guitarist, are still good enough to make an All-Star team through their impact. In the right situation, a role player could have a hall-of-fame-worthy career. I submit Golden State’s Draymond Green and Minnesota’s Rudy Gobert (yes, him too) as evidence for guys who will likely enter Naismith.

Role player are essential to winning

Yet, in most cases, they will be the dudes who sacrifice significant minutes, touches and their bodies. The stars are the primary difference makers, but a role player can change a series. Ray Allen’s corner equalizer in 2013 (when he was a senior citizen), Fred VanVleet’s long-range precision in 2019 and more recently, Mitchell Robinson going berserk on the boards for New York against the Cavaliers in 2023 has taught me enough.

Below are some of the finest rough riders to don Wine and Gold threads.