5 best stars the Cleveland Cavaliers missed on draft night

Not every Cleveland draft pick is LeBron James.
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Damian Lillard (2012)

When the Cavaliers selected Kyrie Irving first overall in 2011, the sky seemed to be the limit once the Cavs could find a second star to put at his side. In the following draft, Cleveland believed to have found that star in Dion Waiters at the fourth overall spot, expecting the two to create an unstoppable backcourt duo.

Fate would have other plans, though. Waiters only spent two-and-a-half seasons with the Cavaliers, averaging roughly 17 points per game before a trade sent him to the Oklahoma City Thunder for future 2016 champion J.R. Smith.

Selected sixth overall in the same draft, the Portland Trail Blazers added future Hall of Famer superstar Damian Lillard. Lillard would spend the first 11 years of his career with the Blazers, creating countless unforgettable moments in the regular and postseason with the organization. The seven-time All-NBA star led Portland to the Western Conference Finals in 2019, averaging 22.3 points, 8.5 assists and 4.8 rebounds in the WCF.

Perhaps more than any other draft-night miss up to this point, the Cavaliers' missing out on Lillard by two picks hurts the most. Still, it does not compare to the gap in talent and success between the final missed opportunity.