To date, the Cleveland Cavaliers organization has had 42 first round selections in their 43 years as an NBA franchise. This is in spite of Ted Stepien’s mismanagement of the franchise that led to an NBA rule by his name, saying that team’s cannot trade first round picks in consecutive years. During this time, the team’s average selection was in the 12th slot, averaging all 42 draft positions.
The grading system is as follows: A equals a top performer, that had or does have the potential for a long productive NBA career. B equals a productive player that played regular, meaningful minutes over several seasons in the NBA. C equals a middle of the road player who perhaps had a few productive seasons, but was mostly a steady producer. D equals a player who fell short of expectations and did not produce as hoped. So, let’s take a look at how well the organization has faired in their scouting, evaluation and selection of talent.
The “A” Group - Out of 42 players, I could only award five selections an A, with LeBron James leading the pack with an A+. Brad Daugherty, Zydrunas Ilgauskas, Kyrie Irving, Mike Mitchell made up the elite group. Kyrie Irving made the list based on his potential, as well as his showing in the first two seasons, as well as the All-Star game events.
Mike Mitchell was one that the Cavs should never have let get away. After four seasons, Ted Stepien traded the All-Star, along with guard Phil Phegley, to the San Antonio Spurs for starting forward Reggie Johnson and back up guard Ron Brewer. Johnson played one season for the Cavs and was traded to the Kansas City Kings and Brewer spent two seasons in Cleveland and was moved to the Golden State Warriors.
The “B” Group – The B+ players include Austin Carr, Roy Hinson, Andre Miller, and Kevin Johnson. Austin Carr would have been a shoo in for an A, but a knee injury robbed him of much of the explosiveness he showed in college. He was still solid and a great shooter, but not the same player Cleveland drafted.
Kevin Johnson only played one season in Cleveland, but he was traded for Larry Nance, who has his number hanging in the Quicken Loans Arena rafters. Roy Hinson was a solid 20 PPG and 9 RPG producer before he was traded for the first overall selection of the 1986 draft that brought Brad Daugherty to the team. Miller has enjoyed a 14 season career averaging 14 PPG and 7 APG, so he definitely belongs here. Ron Harper, Terrell Brandon Brevin Knight, Jamal Crawford, Tristan Thompson, Dion Waiters and first ever Cavs pick John Johnson round out the B Group.
The “C” Group – John Bagley heads up the mediocre C Group. Thompson and Waiters could eventually rank higher once they show more. Bagley was a solid, steady producer for the team but didn’t quite do quite enough, for long enough, to merit a B. The rest of the pack includes: Jim Brewer, Chris Mills, Bob Sura, Derek Anderson, DeSagana Diop, JJ Hickson, Tim McCormick, Brendan Haywood, and Shannon Brown.
The “D” Group – During the 1985 draft, the Cavs selected Charles Oakley and traded him to the Chicago Bulls for Keith Lee in one of the worst trades the team would ever make. Keith Lee received a D for his 4 season contributions to the league. Other forgettables include: Dwight Davis, John Lambert, Stewart Granger, Randolph Keyes, Trajan Langdon, Vitaly Potapenko, Dajuan Wagner, Luke Jackson, Jared Cunningham, Christian Eyenga, Chuckie Williams, Chad Kench, and John Morton.
So, out of 40 selections, only 18 (45 percent) received a B or higher, with nearly as many (13) getting a D. Anthony Bennett and Sergey Karasev were not graded as they have yet to play a game. In seasons where the Cavs picked in the 1 thru 10 slots, they scored 3 A’s, 8 B’s, 3 C’s and 3 D’s. In seasons where the picked from the 11th thru 20th slots, they scored 2 A’s, 3 B’s, 6 C’s and 4 D’s. These number show that even when the team wasn’t high in the lottery, they still have found decent players even though the odds were against them.
It was an interesting trip down memory lane, remembering a few players that came and went for the Cavs, and some who are probably best left forgotten. I’d be interested in hearing your thoughts on the rankings and what you took away from them. Post your comments below.