With the draft looming on Thursday night, the Cleveland Cavaliers have a chance to draft as many as four new players to their roster. A lot of argument has been taking place over the last few weeks over what the Cavs should do at all of these spots, even the No. 1 pick. With that said, let’s pause for a bit and review what the Cavs have done in the last 10 drafts.
#1-F LeBron James, #31-F Jason Kapono
Chad Ford Draft Grade: A-
There shouldn’t be much I have to say about LeBron James. The Cavs made the correct decision to take the 4-time MVP first, regardless of his decision to leave. James won two MVPs ion Cleveland and took the Cavs to their only Finals appearance. He made the Cavs a title contender every year from 05-06 to 09-10 and saved the team from death by Ricky Davis/Darius Miles combo. Kapono only spent one year in Cleveland buried on a bench that also included Eric Williams and Ira Newble, and then got picked by the Charlotte Bobcats in the expansion draft. He did have a fine career, however, winning a title in Miami, having productive years in Toronto and winning a few three-point contests. The next small forward taken was Luke Walton as well, and I guess he saved us that nightmare occurring eight years early, and for that we thank you, Jason Kapono. Great draft.
#10-F Luke Jackson, #30 Anderson Varejao (From Orlando)
Marty Burns (SI) Draft Grade: B+
WELP. Jackson was a non-factor in Cleveland, thanks to the fact that he was a sieve defensively, and the Cavs still had an army of small forwards. Jackson played 46 games in a Cavaliers uniform and averaged 2.7 points. The Cavs did end up with Anderson Varejao out of this draft as well, but he came over in the Drew Gooden/Tony Battie robbery of a trade a month after the draft, so he comes with an asterisk. The Cavs’ original second-rounder was traded in the Lamond Murray trade for Michael Stewart. Varejao was certainly the only positive to come out of this draft.
#44 C Martynas Andriuskevicius (From Orlando)
Marty Burns Draft Grade: B
The Cavs traded this first-Rounder way back in 1997 to Phoenix for Wesley Person and Tony Dumas. The pick eventually became Sean May, and Person had five productive years in Cleveland, so I’d say things worked out. They walked into this draft with no picks, as they dealt their second-rounder to the Magic in that Gooden deal. However, because the draft is a weird, crazy, mythical crazyland, they got their original pick back from the Magic for another second-rounder, and it was Andriuskevicius, who played six NBA games for Cleveland and registered four total rebounds and no points. Fun story from Martynas’s Wiki page: For whatever reason, while playing in the D-League in 2006, Andriuskevicius was attacked by teammate Awvee Storey in practice and sustained a fractured skull, concussion and hematoma that left him unable to speak for a month, yet still came back from it to play for Lithuania in the 2010 FIBA championships. Basketball is a weird sport.
2006 NBA DRAFT
#25-G Shannon Brown, #42-G Daniel Gibson, #55-F Ejike Ugboaja
Marty Burns Draft Grade: B+
Brown, the high-flying dunker currently with the Phoenix Suns, played very little for the Cavaliers, appearing in just 38 games as a Cavalier before being traded in the Drew Gooden/Ben Wallace deal. While he didn’t produce much, the Cavs got a second-round steal in Gibson, the combo guard from Texas who developed into one of the team’s best bench options from 08-11. His last two years were atrocious, but Gibson has been one of the best second-round values the Cavs have ever gotten. Ugboaja was a forward from Nigeria who never played an NBA game. This ended up being a pretty successful draft for the Cavs, even if Brown never panned out for them.
2007 NBA DRAFT
The Cavs traded their second-round pick to Orlando for Andriuskevicius, and their first-rounder was dealt back in 2005 to Boston for Jiri Welsch. It ended up being the 24th pick and was traded three times, starting in Cleveland and going to Boston and then Phoenix, who drafted Rudy Fernandez, and then finally shipped him to Portland. Since the Cavs were coming off a Finals appearance here, this draft can be a pass.
2008 NBA DRAFT
#19-F J.J. Hickson, #52-F Darnell Jackson (From Miami), #56-C Sasha Kaun (From Seattle)
Chad Ford Draft Grade: A-
The Cavs grabbed Hickson in this draft, one of the all-time false-flag players in NBA history. Hickson didn’t do much in his rookie season, was an acceptable starter in 09-10 for Cleveland and then rampaged on a terrible team in 10-11, prompting the Kings to trade a protected first-rounder and Omri Casspi for him. He did nothing in Sacremento, then immediately got shipped to Portland, where he was a double-double machine on a terrible rebounding team while playing a ton of minutes, and is about to get PAID this offseason. We may never see that first-rounder because it’s lottery-protected, and well, it’s the Kings, but still, Hickson netted us a solid future pick and was alright in Cleveland. The Cavs also bought two second-rounders essentially, and while Kaun never sniffed the NBA, Jackson was a half-decent deep reserve on the 08-09 team.
2009 NBA DRAFT
#30-F Christian Eyenga, #46-G Danny Green
Chad Ford Draft Grade: B-
The Cavs tried to build for the future here a little bit, drafting Christian Eyenga from the DRC over guys like Dante Cunningham, Sam Young and Jonas Jerebko. This was a bit of shortsighted thinking by Danny Ferry, as the Cavs really could have used someone on the bench to contribute more immediately. Eyenga ended up coming over in 10-11 and was a terrible offensive player. He did end up in the trade that landed us the 19th pick this year, however, so that’s exciting. Green was useless in Cleveland and I will not hear another word of how the Cavs should regret not keeping him for what he became in San Antonio. Green’s proficiency is a product of the Spurs coaching staff as much as it is of him realizing his talents. This draft was a bit of a flop.
2010 NBA DRAFT
The first-rounder was traded in the Antawn Jamison trade; the second-rounder was dealt in the Shaq trade. Both questionable decisions at the time, but you can’t really fault the Cavs for not having picks here.
2011 NBA DRAFT
#1-G Kyrie Irving, #4-F Tristan Thompson, #54-F Milan Macvan
Sam Amick (SI) Draft Grade: B-
Wow, Amick’s draft grade whiffed here. While Valanciunas would be an interesting fit on the Cavs, this was before Anderson Varejao was a walking injury magnet, and the Cavs didn’t need a center. I’d rather have Irving, a budding star, and Thompson, who’s taken tremendous strides since college, over Derrick Williams and Brandon Knight any day. The Cavs got two current starters who should be here awhile from this draft, as well as the 31st pick in this year’s draft, netted from trading Justin Harper to the Magic.
2012 NBA DRAFT
#4-G Dion Waiters, #17-C Tyler Zeller
Sam Amick Draft Grade: A
Waiters is a very polarizing player for the Cavs, and we’ll need a few more years here to see how we truly feel about this pick. I said it then, and I’m saying it again now: Trading three picks for Tyler Zeller was a bit of a risky move for the Cavs. Zeller hasn’t shown much beyond being an acceptable pick-and-pop guy, and while the Mavericks completely whiffed on Jared Cunningham at No. 24, the Cavs’ original pick, Zeller hasn’t looked to be a long-term guy in Cleveland. This draft has been a bit of a wild card so far.