The Cleveland Cavaliers became an expansion franchise in 1970. Though they made the playoffs a few times, they didn’t become a factor until the mid-late 80’s. Unfortunately they kept running into Michael Jordan led Chicago Bulls who undeniably had their number. Their fortune changed in 2003 when they drafted local product LeBron James. He proceeded to lead them to the NBA Finals in 2007 before leaving for Miami in 2010. He returned in 2014 and Jed them to a championship in 2016. While they aren’t much of a storied franchise here are the top five player in Cavaliers history.
5) Mark Price
Price was drafted with the first selection in the 2nd round of the 1986 draft by Dallas. He was acquired by Cleveland in a draft day trade. As a point guard, he proved to be very efficient. In 1989 he had a shooting line of 50/40/90. He became a terrific three-point shooter and showed a great ability leading the team. He played 9 seasons with Cleveland making the playoffs in 7 of them. He was a career 90% free throw shooter and led the league in that department three times. Price also played with 1994 Fiba World Championship team dubbed the Dream Team II. Injuries would derail his career eventually getting him traded to Washington.
Franchise ranks: 5th in points, 2nd in assists, 2nd in steals, 10th in playoff games, 2nd 3-pointers, 1st in Ft %
4) Kyrie Irving
Irving became the number 1 pick in 2011 after Cleveland had some terrible seasons with LeBron James in Miami! After only playing 8 games his Freshman season at Duke, he erupted on to the scene with his flashy handles and scoring ability to earn Rookie of the Year. Once Irving got his perimeter game to come around, he became a deadly offensive player. In 2014 LeBron Janes returned to Cleveland along with Kevin Love to make the Cavs a force in the East. His ability to play off the ball as well as run the team helped Cleveland get to four straight Finals. His legend grew as he hit the big three that ended up being the game winner in 2016 Finals. Unfortunately being in James’ shadow became too much for Jim and in the summer of 2017, he requested a trade and Cleveland dealt him to the Boston Celtics. Although he only played 6 seasons, Irving amounted many accolades and his an all-time great in Cleveland.
Franchise ranks: 8th in points, 5th in assists, 9th in steals, 8th in playoff games, 3rd in 3-pointers
3) Brad Daugherty
Daugherty was drafted 1st overall in 1986 draft out of the University of North Carolina. He was a scorer in the post right from the start. In his 8 years in the league, all with Cleveland, he averaged 19 points a game, grabbing 9.5 boards and shooting a crazy 53% from the field. He made the playoffs 5 times in his career but was on those Cavs teams that lost to Chicago in the playoffs. Back problems shortened his career, but he still was able to amass a lot of stats.
Franchise ranks: 3rd in points, 3rd in rebounds, 7th assists, 7th in blocks
2) Zydrunas Ilgauskas
”Big Z” was not flashy but put up major stats in Cleveland. Ilgauskas was 20th overall in 1996 draft. After a solid rookie season, Injuries slowed him during his 2nd and 3rd season. During his time in Cleveland, Ilgauskas showed to be a great rebounder as well as a rim protector. In 2007, Big Z helped lead the Cavs to the Finals getting swept by San Antonio. He played 12 seasons for Cleveland.
Franchise ranks: 2nd in points, 2nd in rebounds, 1st in blocks, 4th in playoff games
1) LeBron James
James was drafted number 1 in 2003. Right away he was a factor for Cleveland, with an 18 game improvement in year one on his way to Rookie of the Year. He led the league in scoring in 2007 also taking his team to the Finals losing to San Antonio. After the 2010 season, James left Cleveland for Miami winning 2 titles down there. After he returned in 2014, he took the Cavs to 4 straight Finals appearances winning 2016 Finals over Golden State. In his 11 seasons in Cleveland James basically became the franchise leader in almost every category. While in Cleveland he averaged 27.3 points a game, 7.3 rebounds, 7.3 assists. He also proved to be a clutch player with a variety of game-winning shots also on his resume. Some think he is the best basketball player of all time, but he is definitely the best player in Cavs history. While with Cleveland he won MVP twice, was on all NBA 1st team 8 times, all-star MVP 3 times and all defensive 1st team twice.
Franchise ranks: 1st in points, 1st in rebounds, 1st in assists, 3rd in blocks, 1st in steals, 1st in playoff games, 1st in playoff wins
While number 1 was easy, the other four spots took some research to break down. Please tell us if you agree with our list.