3 former Cavaliers who have thrived since leaving Cleveland

Cleveland's ones that got away.
Dallas Mavericks v Utah Jazz
Dallas Mavericks v Utah Jazz / Alex Goodlett/GettyImages
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The Cleveland Cavaliers have enjoyed a number of exciting talents, but the ones who have flourished after leaving leave fans wondering what could have been.

No team will be perfect every year in the draft, and no team will always make the right trades or signings in free agency. The inevitability of mistakes or missed opportunities does not change how difficult it can be for a franchise to watch a player flourish once they leave the organization. Cleveland has been a pit stop for numerous talented NBA veterans from players, including recent rivals and champions.

Looking back at the Cavaliers' recent ones that got away, three stand out among the rest.

The Cavaliers have to regret losing Lauri Markkanen

Truth be told, the Cavaliers do not get Donovan Mitchell without losing Lauri Markkanen or Jarrett Allen in the trade. Both financially and philosophically, the Utah Jazz have no interest in a Cavs trade package without one of their two young big men. Since Allen had a longer tenure already with Cleveland and Markkanen's time with the team was not particularly exciting, the choice was easy at the time.

Since the trade, Markkanen has elevated his play, earning an All-Star appearance and winning Most Improve Player the next season. From his days with the Chicago Bulls to now, Markkanen is a vastly different player. At seven feet tall, his athletic ability and long range shooting make him a high-caliber contributor to any contending team. With Evan Mobley's growth as a center and Cleveland's various changes impending this summer, Markkanen's leap is a no-brainer option for this list.

In his first season after Cleveland, Markkanen averaged 25.6 points, 8.6 rebounds, 1.9 assists and 39.1 percent from three-point range. Considering the Cavs' need for more three-point shooting in the frontcourt to maximize Mobley, the modern Markkanen would have been a perfect fit. The Cavaliers could never find Markkanen's best role, though, leaving him lost on offense and underappreciated on defense. With the Cavs, Markkanen played 64 percent of his minutes out of position as a small forward next to Allen and Mobley in the frontcourt. With the Jazz next season, he spent 62 percent of his time at his natural power forward spot.

This role change and increased responsibility gave him the freedom to develop into the exciting forward every team has clamored to add to their roster ever since. If the Cavaliers could go back in time, they would still make the blockbuster trade for Mitchell, but they might think twice about the choice between Markkanen and Allen.