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Cleveland Cavaliers Draft History – A Closer Look

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Cleveland Cavaliers Draft History – A Closer Look

Posted on 09 February 2012 by Chris

The Cleveland Cavaliers selected Lebron 1st overall in the NBA 2003 Draft.  How did we get so lucky (in hindsight, one could question whether that was lucky or not) to pick first in the league in the year that the franchise savior, Lebron, was coming out?

For those of you who are interested, here is a blow-by-blow of how the Cavs failed miserably (mostly) for several years to get in position to draft Lebron.  For most of you this won’t be interesting, unfortunately, but for those of you who like reading about franchises utterly screwing the pooch repeatedly, here’s a winner!

Starting in 1985 when the number of rounds in the NBA draft was cut down to 7 from 10:


Round 1, Pick 9 - Charles Oakley – Never played a game for the Cavaliers, traded with Calvin Duncan on draft day to the Bulls for Ennis Whatley and the draft rights to Keith Lee.  Oakley finished a 19 year NBA career in 2004 with at least 10 of those seasons above 11 points per game, and over 9 rebounds per game.  Keith Lee played 3 seasons in the NBA, 2 for the Cavaliers, never scoring more than 7.4 points per game.  Ennis Whatley never played a game for us and only played 1 NBA season.

Who did we miss out on?  Karl Malone, Joe Dumars, A.C. Green, Terry Porter


Round 1, Pick 1 – Brad Daugherty – Nothing bad to say here.  Too bad he only had an 8 year career.  His ppg was between 16 and 22 ppg every year of his career, along with 8-10 rebs, and 3.5 assists on average.  Very good numbers.

Round 1, Pick 8 – Ron Harper - Played 3 seasons for the Cavs, put up some incredible numbers in his 1st and 3rd seasons, averaging 22.9 and 18.6 points per game, along with 5 assists, 2 steals, 1 block and 5 rebounds per game.  Went on to win 3 championships with the Bulls and a championship with the Lakers after leaving the Cavs.  Finished his career with over 1,500 career steals.  Traded along with a 1990 1st Rounder, 1991 2nd Rounder, and 1992 1st Rounder for Reggie Williams and the right to draft Danny Ferry.  Ouch.  Reggie Williams played 1 season for the Cavaliers, scoring 6.8 ppg.  He was never all that great, though he did have a few productive seasons in Denver later in his career.  Ferry played 10 seasons for the Cavs, mostly as a backup.  He only averaged over 10 ppg twice in his Cavalier career.

Who did we miss out on?  Nobody — we avoided 3 complete druggies in Len Bias at #2, Chris Washburn at #3, and Roy Tarpley at #7 – what a miracle!


Round 1, Pick 7 – Kevin Johnson - Came off the bench for 1 season with the Cavaliers.  Traded midway through his first season to the Suns for Larry Nance, since the Cavaliers had Mark Price at PG and felt KJ was expendable.  Unfortunately KJ went on to have a hall of fame career with the Suns, making several all-star games and playing in the finals, etc.  KJ had almost 18 ppg and 9 apg for his career.  Fantastic numbers.  We also threw in a 1994 1st rounder to the deal, which turned out to be All-Star 3-point shooter Dan Majerle.  Larry Nance played 7 years for the Cavs and scored between 14-17 ppg with 8 rebounds per game for those years, making the All-Star game a few times and being a good shot blocker as well.  He also helped us to the playoffs 5 times.

Who did we miss out on?  Reggie Miller and Mark Jackson, a couple of Hall of Famers - but KJ was the real deal too.


Round 1, Pick 22 – Randolph Keys - Played 2 seasons for the Cavs, averaging 5 ppg.  Never amounted to anything.

Who did we miss out on?  Nobody of great importance.


Round 1, Pick 25 – John Morton – Played 3 seasons for the Cavs, averaging 4 ppg.  Never amounted to anything.

Who did we miss out on?  Vlade Divac, who went at #26, and Cliff Robinson.


No 1st rounder, traded with Ron Harper in 1986.

Who did we miss out on?  We got Tyrone Hill (pick #11) via trade, he made the All-Star game in 91, and then we traded him.  Bleh…


Round 1, Pick 11 - Terrell Brandon – Played 6 seasons with the Cavs, his first 3 were as a backup, then he played two strong seasons as a starter at guard for us in 95-97, averaging 19.5 ppg and 6 assists per game.  Right after his second strong season, he was traded with Tyrone Hill and a 1998 1st Rounder in a 3 way deal.  The Cavs received Sherman Douglas and Shawn Kemp.  Kemp was more or less a disaster in Cleveland, despite 17.5ppg and 9rpg, and was traded away 3 seasons later.  Sherman Douglas was traded immediately along with a 2000 2nd Rounder for Greg Graham.  Graham played 6 games for the Cavaliers and then retired.

Who did we miss out on?  Dale Davis, Chris Gatling, Greg Anthony – nobody too special.


No 1st rounder, traded with Ron Harper in 1986.

Who did we miss out on?  Latrell Sprewell at #24, I guess if you consider him good.


Round 1, Pick 22 – Chris Mills – Played 4 decent seasons with the Cavs, the last 3 as a starter at Forward.  Averaged 12.5 points per game, along with 5 rebounds per game.  Borderline numbers for a starter, basically.  Left as a free agent in 97-98.  Was never much better after leaving us.

Who did we miss out on?  Sam Cassell, who went at #24.  How bout Nick Van Exel at #37?


No 1st rounder, traded with KJ to the Suns, ended up being Dan Majerle.

Who did we miss out on?  Jalen Rose, Aaron McKie, Wesley Person…


Round 1, Pick 17 – Bob Sura – Backup PG most of his career, played 5 seasons with the Cavs in which he averaged 5 points per game or so.  Had a little more success after leaving the Cavaliers.  Never had alot of points nor did he get many assists.

Who did we miss out on?  Theo Ratliff, Michael Finley


Round 1, Pick 12 – Vitaly Potapenko – I’m sure he was drafted beacuse he went to Wright State University in Dayton.  Played 2 and a half seasons with the Cavaliers, averaging 7 points per game, mostly off the bench.  Poor rebounder for the most part.  Traded for Andrew Declercq and a 1st Rounder in 99.  Declercq played less than 2 seasons off the bench mostly, averaging 7ppg and 5 rebounds for the Cavs.  Traded Declercq for Matt Harpring in 97.  Harpring played 1 season for the Cavaliers, getting 11ppg and 4rpg.  Harpring was still getting 12 ppg in 2006.  He left the Cavs for Philadelphia as a free agent after that 1 season.

Who did we miss out on?  How about Kobe Bryant, who went 1 pick later.  Peja Stojakovic, Steve Nash, Jermaine O’Neal, thank god we had 2 picks and found Z at 20.  Even Derek Fisher at 24 would have been better.

Round 1, Pick 20 – Zydrunas Ilgauskas - The rest is history here.


Round 1, Pick 13 – Derek Anderson – Played 2 seasons for the Cavs at Guard, averaging 11 ppg with 3.5 assists per game.  Played in the All-Rookie team his 1st year with the Cavs.  Traded with Johnny Newman to the Clippers for Lamond Murray in 1999.  Lamond Murray played 3 seasons with the Cavs, putting up decent numbers, around 14 ppg and 5rpg.  Traded after a 16.6 ppg season with the Cavs with a 2nd rounder for Michael Stewart and a 1st rounder.  Stewart didn’t play a game for the Cavs until later in his career.

Round 1, Pick 16 – Brevin Knight – Played 3 seasons at PG for the Cavs, averaging only 9 points in over 30 minutes per game.  At least he had 7 assists per game in that time.  Traded to the Hawks for Jimmy Jackson, Anthony Johnson and Larry Robinson in 2001.  Robinson played 1 game for the Cavaliers.  Jackson played 36 games for the Cavaliers.  Johnson spent one month with the Cavaliers before being waived.  Brevin Knight is still playing in the NBA in 2007.

Who did we miss out on?  Anthony Parker, Bobby Jackson, nothing special.


No 1st rounder, traded for Shawn Kemp.

Who did we miss out on?  After pick 13, Bonzi Wells, Matt Harpring, Rado Nesterovic, Tyronn Lue, Al Harrington, Rafer Alston, Cuttino Mobley, Nazr Mohammed, and oh, some guy named Rashard Lewis :)


1st Round, Pick 8 – Andre Miller – Played 3 seasons with the Cavaliers at Guard.  Averaged 15 ppg, 8 apg, 3 rpg and 1.5 spg.  Very good numbers.  Led the NBA in assists with 882 and assists per game in his last season with Cleveland.  Had a 22-assist game against Philly.  Averaged a double-double with the Cavs.  Traded with Bryant Stith to the LA Clippers for Darius Miles and Harold Jamison.  Darius Miles played 2 disappointing seasons with the Cavaliers averaging 8.8 ppg.  Miller has been a 13 ppg / 7 apg PG ever since.

1st Round, Pick 11 – Trajan Langdon – First of all, a basketball player from Alaska?  Yikes.  He played 3 seasons in the NBA, all 3 with the Cavs averaging 5 ppg, and less then 2 rebounds a game.  Nobody saw that coming… <sarcasm>

Who did we miss out on?  Shawn Marion, Ron Artest, Jason Terry, Andrei Kirilenko, for starters.  3 of the best defensive players in the NBA up until recently and one of the better offensive players in Terry.  And we missed on 3 of 4 of these guys TWICE!


1st Round, Pick 7 – Chris Mihm -  Played 4 pretty lousy years for the Cavs while our team was horrendous.  Averaged 6.5 points and 6 rebounds a game.  We actually drafted Jamal Crawford and traded him 15 minutes later for Chris Mihm.  Jamal Crawford won 6th man of the year in 2010.  Mihm left us several years ago as a free agent.  Crawford has had a pretty solid career as a guard and is playing his best ball now.

Who did we miss out on?  Well, other than Jamal Crawford, considering we picked him up and traded him for Mihm 15 mins later, Joel Przybilla, Jamaal Magloire, Michael Redd, Mo Peterson, Desmond Mason, Quentin Richardson, Etan Thomas and Speedy Claxton.  Just a few.


1st Round, Pick 8 – DeSagana Diop – Diop played 4 seasons with the Cavs, averaging around 2 points per game in less than 15 minutes a game.  He was a half-decent reserve C off the bench for Dallas for a couple of years before washing out of the NBA.

1st Round, Pick 20 – Brendan Haywood – Cavs traded Haywood immediately to the Magic for Michael Doleac.  Haywood wasn’t that great anyway, averaging 6.6 ppg over his career so far.  Michael Doleac on the other hand, is a career bench player and average at best.  Played 46 games for the Cavs and only scored 4.6 ppg.

Who did we miss out on?  Joe Johnson, Radmanovic, Mehmet Okur, Steven Hunter, Gerald Wallace, Zach Randolph (24 ppg last year), Jamaal Tinsley, and a couple of dudes named Tony Parker and Gilbert Arenas.  Most of these guys were available after BOTH of our picks were done.


1st Round, Pick 6 – Dajuan Wagner - Had a great rookie season, then was diagnosed with Colitis soon thereafter and had to have his entire colon removed.  He tried a NBA comeback with the Warriors and they bought him out.

Who did we miss out on?  Nene, Amare Stoudamire, Caron Butler, Bostjan Nachbar, Tayshaun Prince, Nenad Krstic, John Salmons, Flip Murray.

*2nd Round, Pick 6 – Carlos Boozer – Played 2 good seasons for the Cavs, left for more money when we drafted Lebron because he wanted all the spotlight, and now he’s the Jazz’ franchise forward.

Who did we miss out on?  Nobody, if we could have kept Boozer… he was a steal in round 2 where we got him.


1st Round, Pick 1 – Lebron James – Thank goodness we got one right.  Doesn’t matter how much you hate the man, the pick was probably the best one you could make considering Darko went next, and then Carmelo and Bosh haven’t won anything either.  Wade, however has thanks to Shaq…

2nd Round, Pick 2 – Jason Kapono – Too bad we let him leave in the Bobcats’ expansion draft.  He led the league in 3 point percentage a few years back… not a bad pick for a 2nd rounder, but he’s almost out of the league already.

Who did we miss out on?  Nobody at all, this was a great draft courtesy of Lebron.


1st Round, Pick 10 – Luke Jackson – Total bust.  2.8 ppg over 2 seasons.  Tendinitis and back spasms for most of his career, the Cavs traded him for Dwayne Jones, who currently resides on our bench – permanently.

Who did we miss out on?  Andris Biedrins, Al Jefferson, Josh Smith, JR Smith, Jameer Nelson, Delonte West, and Anderson Varejao – thankfully we got him back.


No draft picks, we traded this one for Jiri Welsch, another bust.

Who did we miss out on?  We had the 13th pick, which turned out to be Sean May for the Bobcats.  We could have had any number of average players.  Rashad McCants, Danny Granger, Gerald Green, Hakim Warrick, Jarrett Jack, Jason Maxiell, Ronny Turiaf, Monta Ellis, Ryan Gomes.


1st Round, Pick 25 – Shannon Brown – The jury is out on Shannon as far as his career goes, but he does have more rings than LeBron… and he played a part in winning it too, he was Kobe’s backup and played some important minutes in the playoffs.

2nd Round, Pick 12 – Daniel Gibson  – He’s a good player, a little injury prone, but for a second rounder, a very serviceable backup PG/SG and he loves Cleveland, which means we love him.

Who did we miss out on?  Paul Millsap went at number 47 in the second round, but just about everyone missed out on him.  Jordan Farmar was picked with the pick after Boobie, but he’s about equal in terms of player skill.

2007: The Cavaliers had no picks, they had all been included in trades.


1st Round, Pick 19 – J.J. Hickson – He wasn’t known by many Cavs fans at the time of the draft, but he has insane hops, can dunk with the best of them, and can run the floor, but he has a very limited basketball IQ.  He was traded for Omri Casspi to the Sacramento Kings in 2010, including a future 1st rounder coming back to the Cavaliers.  Considering JJ was never going to be in the plans going forward, this trade made sense.

2nd Round, Pick 52 – Darnell Jackson - Hands of stone, couldn’t jump.  He could hurt people though that doesn’t get you far in the NBA.  We traded for this pick with Orlando, giving them our lesser 2nd rounder in 2009, who ended up being a nobody who never played in the NBA.

2nd Round, Pick 56 – Sasha Kaun - We acquired the rights to this pick for some cash from the Sonics.  Funny enough, Kaun was Darnell’s teammate at Kansas, they may have even shared a position.  He developed in Europe and I believe is still developing there now.  He may never be in the NBA.

Who did we miss out on?  A few good players.  Mario Chalmers, DeAndre Jordan, Ryan Anderson, Courtney Lee, Kosta Koufos, Serge Ibaka, Nic Batum, Nikola Pekovic, George Hill, Omer Asik, Luc Mbah a Moute, 


1st Round, Pick 30 – Christian Eyenga – A longshot prospect with incredible athleticism.  He’s currently playing with the team, albeit not much.  He is steadily improving.  He may be a serviceable bench player if he can start to develop a little quicker.

2nd Round, Pick 46 – Danny Green - He was a defensive 3 point shooter, a potential Bruce Bowen type, albeit maybe not as dirty or physical.  Maybe a Shane Battier.  Who knows, after his rookie contract expired we let him go to the Spurs, where he could be exactly that.  He started for Ginobili several times and played well.  His career is still on the rise, not bad for a late pick.

Who did we miss out on?  DeJuan Blair, Jonas Jerebko, Marcus Thornton.  Not a whole lot, although Thornton is a pretty dynamic scorer.


Both of our draft picks from this year were given away in salary dumps.  One to ship Zydrunas Ilgauskas out of town and bring in Antawn Jamison, and the other to bring Shaq to Cleveland for our ill-fated playoff run (you know, the one where LeQuit was born).


1st Round, Pick 1 – Kyrie Irving - That’s right, the Cavaliers traded Mo Williams for Baron Davis and a lottery pick to help the Clippers get some money back in the deal, and the lottery pick turned out to be the future Point Guard of the Cavaliers.  So far Kyrie has exceeded all expectations and is playing some amazing basketball.  Can’t wait to see where he takes us.

1st Round, Pick 4 – Tristan Thompson – He’s a big, so he will go through growing pains, but he has shown flashes of great talent.  The 6’11″ power forward hopes to be a center piece of our franchise going forward.

2nd Round, Pick 32 – Justin Harper - Traded to Orlando on draft night for 2013 and 2014 2nd rounders.  Good deal I’d say, since Harper hasn’t amounted to anything.


The Cavaliers future is bright with the additions of Kyrie and Tristan.  The team is playing very well and very hard for Byron Scott.  Adding undrafted Samardo Samuels has helped the team, and Alonzo Gee as well who is really turning into something special before our eyes.  Of course, Andy Varejao is an absolute beast and having a career year.  Personally, I am more excited about this team than I was about the Lebron teams.  Lebron was just such a complete and utter disappointment when he left, that it erased his entire legacy in Cleveland in my eyes.  He will never be remembered for his heroics, only for his failures.

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