Ranking every No. 1 overall draft pick to play for the Cavaliers

Kyrie Irving and LeBron James, Cleveland Cavaliers. Photo by Elsa/Getty Images
Kyrie Irving and LeBron James, Cleveland Cavaliers. Photo by Elsa/Getty Images /
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Cleveland Cavaliers
Kyrie Irving, Cleveland Cavaliers. Photo by Vaughn Ridley/Getty Images /

No. 3: Kyrie Irving, 381 games

LeBron James left the Cleveland Cavaliers in free agency the summer of 2010, signing with the Miami Heat to win not four, not five, not six…well, two championships. The leftover collection of veterans the team had assembled to play around James stumbled to a 19-63 record and were bad enough during the year to take on Baron Davis’ salary from the Los Angeles Clippers in exchange for an unprotected first-round pick.

The Clippers then stumbled themselves down the stretch and the pick landed in the lottery…and then shockingly won the lottery, leaping up to the No.1 pick. The Cavs were gift-wrapped the No. 1 overall pick, which they used to draft dynamic Duke point guard Kyrie Irving.

Irving has painted himself with ignominy over the past half-decade, but his early years with the Cavaliers were positive ones. He won Rookie of the Year, made the All-Star Game in his second season, and was a capable wingman to LeBron James when The King returned to Cleveland.

Very few players in NBA history, let alone in the league today, can combine ball-handling and elite finishing with a smooth jumpshot like Kyrie Irving can. He erupted in a must-win Game 5 in the 2016 NBA Finals, then hit the biggest shot in franchise history over the outstretched arm of Stephen Curry in Game 7. For the six seasons he was in Cleveland, he was a magician spurring them on toward contention.