- Here’s a list of the best Cleveland Cavaliers draft picks in franchise history.
- LeBron James leads the list of players Cleveland selected through the draft.
- Other notable players include Kyrie Irving and Austin Carr.
The Cleveland Cavaliers are most famous for defying the basketball odds in 2016 when they came back from a 3-1 series deficit against the Golden State Warriors in the NBA Finals and won their first-ever title in franchise history. It was one of the greatest NBA Finals upsets in history. Two players they selected through the draft made this incredible achievement possible.
LeBron James and Kyrie Irving spearheaded that championship run in 2016, and because of that, they are part of the best Cleveland Cavaliers draft picks. Brad Daugherty, Zydrunas Ilgauskas, Mark Price, Carlos Boozer, John Williams, and Terrell Williams were honorable mentions that didn’t make the cut.
These Cleveland players made a significant impact on the franchise, either by winning a title or helping the team build their fanbase. Aside from these two superstars, who is the other great Cavalier pick that completes the top three list of the best Cleveland draftees? Find out below.
LeBron James is undoubtedly one of the greatest basketball players ever, and Cleveland was the recipient of his greatness. James was selected as the first overall pick in 2003 and dubbed “The Chosen One.” He lived up to this enormous expectation and led the Cavaliers in almost every statistical category in his first seven seasons in the league.
Exactly 20 years ago today 🎥
LeBron and Carmelo arrive for the 2003 NBA Draft ✨pic.twitter.com/xn6gXvQjw5
— NBA (@NBA) June 26, 2023
The 6 feet 9 inches tall forward won the Rookie of the Year award in 2004 and back-to-back MVPs in 2009 and 2010 before joining Miami in 2011. In 2015, “King James” returned home and led the team to four straight NBA Finals appearances, including the triumph in 2016. James almost racked up triple-double numbers during the 2016 NBA Finals with 29.7 points, 11.3 rebounds, and 8.9 assists.
As a Cavalier, James averaged 27.2 points, 7.3 assists, and 7.3 rebounds in 849 games across 11 seasons before signing with the Los Angeles Lakers in 2018. Because of these incredible stats, James played in the All-Star Game 10 times and was selected to the All-NBA 1st team eight times for Cleveland.
Kyrie Irving was another first-overall pick by Cleveland during the 2011 draft. The former Duke standout made the team relevant again after the departure of James. The dazzling point guard won the Rookie of the Year honor in 2012 with an average of 18.5 points, 5.4 assists, and 3.7 rebounds. Although he couldn’t lead them to the playoffs, Irving represented Cleveland in two NBA All-Star Games in 2013 and 2014.
— NBA Draft (@NBADraft) March 23, 2018
When King James returned in 2015, “Uncle Drew” adjusted his game to supplement the style of play they needed to succeed. Their trio of Irving, James, and Kevin Love was successful as they reached four straight NBA Finals and captured one in 2016. Irving’s best season in this period occurred in 2017, when he produced 25.2 points, 5.8 assists, and 3.2 rebounds.
Before getting traded to Boston in 2017 due to his preference for leading a team and departing from the shadows of James as a sidekick, Irving played in 381 games and racked up 21.6 points, 5.6 assists, and 3.4 rebounds across six seasons. Irving left a lasting impression on Cavaliers fans as one of the most prolific scorers in franchise history.
Completing the list of the best Cleveland Cavaliers draft picks is Mr. Cavalier himself, Austin Carr, who was selected as the first overall pick in 1971. Carr put up a rookie average of 21.2 points to lead the team in scoring on 42.6% field goal percentage. He also had 3.5 rebounds and 3.4 assists, along with a high-scoring output.
The 6 feet 4 inches shooting guard out of Notre Dame was the first bona fide superstar in franchise history as he led them to three straight playoff appearances from 1976 to 1978, although they were booted out in the first round on all three occasions. It was the franchise’s initial postseason appearance since joining the NBA in 1970.
Our #NBAAllStar beginnings 🌟
— Cleveland Cavaliers (@cavs) February 14, 2022
Carr was selected to the All-Rookie First Team in 1972 and the NBA All-Star Game in 1974. His prolific scoring ability accumulated him an average of 16.2 points with 3.0 rebounds and 2.9 assists for the Cavaliers in 635 games over nine seasons. Mr. Cavalier’s best season came in 1974 when he accumulated an average of 21.9 points, 3.6 rebounds, and 3.8 assists.
After nine years with the team, Carr played one more season in the league before retiring in 1981. Because of his valuable contribution to the franchise, his jersey was retired by the team in January 1981, joining the likes of Bingo Smith, Zydrunas Ilgauskas, Larry Nance, Mark Price, Nate Thurmond, and Brad Daugherty as the only Cavaliers jerseys hanging in rafters.
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