Though the Cavaliers have been lucky to get their good friend LeBron James back in their city, they have made some pretty big draft mistakes in their team history. Most of these draft selections are not necessarily talked about all the time, because in recent years, the team has progressed into a partial success story. Their success will be complete with an NBA Championship.
Getting Kyrie Irving in the 2011 NBA Draft was a step in the right direction for Ohio's only NBA team. Though he just missed the LBJ window, he brought a little life to an obviously awful team. Even with Kyrie, the team did struggle. They made a big move by getting Love and James. Now they are ready to contend for titles, as proven by two straight Finals appearances.
Before all of this, and before LeBron wore a red jersey with stitched lettering saying "Cavaliers," the city had struggled to pick the right prospects. Their success was limited because of poor executive decisions. If the city didn't struggle to select the good prospects, this article would be non-existent. But they did, and this article is factual evidence of their mistakes.
Everyone struggles with decision-making, and if you don't, then that is great. All NBA teams experience the pressure of taking the correct prospect, and sometimes teams cannot live up to these expectations of fans. The Cavaliers have taken players who barely wore jerseys high up in the draft. They have sometimes selected men who were out of the league before the next draft occurred. The team has made serious blunders.
Here Are The Top 15 Worst Draft Mistakes Of The Cleveland Cavaliers. You may have never heard of these players because there is nothing to hear about. They have been unproductive schlubs.
15 John Morton
John Morton was selected 25th overall in the 1989 NBA Draft. He was a total bust who never lived up to any expectations. What makes it more painful is former All-Star Vlade Divac was taken 26th. The New York native only averaged around 5 PPG in the league. He bounced from team to team, and went through the Development League. He went overseas for some time, and played in Spain. His career never panned out. He now coaches at Fordham University as an assistant.
14 Stewart Granger
The Villanova graduate had promise entering the NBA. All of this promise was forgotten soon enough. Being selected in the legendary 1984 draft at 24th overall was very much a reach for the Montreal native. He averaged nearly 5 PPG, and 2.4 APG for the team. His career floated on, and he moved from city to city, playing less minutes. He last played in Sweden (1990). While there wasn't much talent by the time the Cavs were picking at 24, they missed out on Oscar Schmidt, who was a late gem in this draft.
13 Harry Davis
Though Harry Davis was selected 33rd overall in the 1978 NBA Draft, which typically isn't a spot where superstars are taken, he should have been better than he was. In older years, the NBA draft was much longer. Therefore, 2nd and third round picks were valuable. Well, Davis wasn't very valuable.
He only played a season, and averaged 4.1 PPG. The next season, he was released from the team. He played in San Antonio for a small amount of time, and then got waived again. Davis found life overseas, but the NBA was not his forte.
12 Chuckie Williams
Chuckie Williams was the 15th pick in the 1976 NBA Draft. He attended Kansas State and had promise to be a threat in the league. He scored a poor 1.7 PPG his first season, and only ended up playing 22 games because of his poor performances. His basketball career lasted a very short two years. His career was great in college, but the professional league did not work out at ALL. Names the Cavs missed out on for later picks included Alex English and Dennis Johnson.
11 John Lambert
The 15th pick in the 1975 NBA Draft was horrendous. Shockingly, he played five years for the Cavaliers. I don't know why, because he only averaged 3.8 PPG in his NBA career. He was no asset, and did not benefit any aspect of the game when he played. At 6-foot-10, his potential was never realized. Some names that went after John Lambert include Gus Williams and Lloyd Free.
10 Dwight Davis
For some reason, of which I am unsure, Dwight Davis somehow played three seasons with the team. He was taken third overall in the 1972 NBA Draft, and was extremely sub par. He was never a real threat on the court, and scored and rebounded in low numbers. Though his career wasn't horrendous, he was a very high selection, and his stats do not solidify that he should have been picked so high. Davis finished his career in 1978 with the Warriors.
Don't fall off your chairs Cavs fans, but do you know who the Cavs could have drafted instead? Julius Erving.
9 Steve Patterson
Patterson was a standout college basketball player, but his NBA career was dreadful. He was a second round pick in 1971. This was a very high pick in those days, as each round was only 17 picks. Patterson would go 18th overall. He averaged 4.4 PPG in the NBA, and 1.3 APG. His knee problems persisted throughout his career. He was a backup in Ohio for five years straight. Then he went to Italy, and managed to make some money there. One gem the Cavs missed out on was Spencer Haywood.
8 Andre Miller
The Cavaliers had two first round picks in the 1999 NBA Draft and whiffed on both of them. The first one was Andre Miller, whom they took with the eighth overall pick after a trade with Boston. While Miller has had a solid career and has even averaged as high as 17.0 points in a season, he didn't do much for the Cavaliers, only staying with the team for three years. He was traded in 2002 to the Clippers. Shawn Marion, who went ninth overall would have been a better pick.
7 Shannon Brown
The Cavaliers could have taken Paul Millsap, but selected Shannon Brown at 25th overall in 2006. He played for the Cavs for two seasons, then began to bounce around the league. He last played for the Miami Heat in 2014. His stats for the Cavaliers totaled in at under 8 PPG. In his first season, he averaged 3.2 PPG. Brown should have been avoided by any means necessary in 2006. Taking Millsap rather than Brown could have put the Cavs over the hump in LeBron's first tenure in Cleveland.
6 DeSagana Diop
I really feel bad for fans who had to watch him in their favorite team's uniform. Diop was the 8th overall pick in 2001. The Cavs could have set themselves up for the future by taking Joe Johnson, Zach Randolph or Tony Parker. Then again, maybe picking one of those guys would have improved them too much to win the 2003 draft lottery.
He never was productive, even with a generous amount of minutes. He was unable to score in games when he had wide open shots. He last played in Charlotte, in 2012. He averaged less than 1 point. Yeah, you heard that right. He scored 0.7 PPG that season.
5 Dajuan Wagner
Instead of picking the great Amare Stoudemire, or Caron Butler, Cleveland went all in with Wagner. The 2002 NBA Draft was deep, and he was taken sixth. Wagner scored a solid amount in his rookie season, but had a bad shooting percentage of 36%. He got injured often, and eventually was a non-factor. Some say he left college too early, and otherwise could have developed into an okay player. Regardless, he was a major draft mistake.
4 Vitaly Potapenko
The 12th pick overall in the 1996 NBA Draft was selected one pick ahead of Kobe Bryant. The Cavaliers are still bitter over this selection, as they maybe would have gotten the Black Mamba. Potapenko was traded team to team, for nothing special in return. He retired, and was a total bust. They could have taken "The Mamba" but choked by taking a foreigner who they didn't know much about. They paid their dues for it, and then got LBJ seven years later.
3 Luke Jackson
The 10th overall pick in the 2004 NBA Draft was Luke Jackson. He was selected ahead of some serious talent as well. His college career was misleading, and his professional career was a blur. He was a free agent very early on, and struggled with knee injuries. He moved from team to team, never establishing a connection with any organization. After hitting the jackpot with LeBron this was a poor way to follow it up.
He has tried his hand at coaching now, and does so at Northwest Christian Academy.
2 Trajan Langdon
The 11th selection in 1999 spent only three years in the NBA, all with the Cavaliers. His statistics were embarrassingly poor. Upon NBA retirement, he went overseas. He played in Italy for some time, and last played in Russia. His career was one of enough minutes for a player to make a minor impact, but he failed to do anything of the sort. The Cavaliers should have taken Corey Maggette or Ron Artest instead.
1 Anthony Bennett
Bennett is easily one of the biggest busts in NBA history. As the first overall pick from UNLV, he has never amounted to anything. His 2013 arrival into the NBA was meaningless for Ohio. His mediocre playing style made him a bench player. His first season in the NBA was a dud, and he averaged 4.2 PPG. The FIRST pick in the draft averaged 4.4 points per game. His second season was just as bad, and he averaged 5.2 PPG. He floated to Minnesota, then to Toronto, and is now in the D-League. The Cavaliers should have looked into this man before taking him first overall. His career has been an utter joke.