Cleveland Cavaliers – A History of Bad, REALLY Bad Decisions
The NBA draft lottery was on Tuesday night and what a shocker! The team with the best odds of winning didn’t come home with the number one pick for the 21st time in its 24 years of existence. Honestly shocking to most was the team that actually won -- the Cleveland Cavaliers. Initially I thought this was a joke; however, as reality set in I couldn’t help but initially think “boy do I feel bad for whoever ends up there”.
If you’re not aware, this is the Cavs’ 3rd number one overall pick in the last 4 years. LeBron James left the city of Cleveland in the summer of 2010 with his highly publicized “decision,” owner Dan Gilbert on the very night that LeBron made this announcement (I like to call it the day professional basketball died in Cleveland) promised publicly that the Cavs would win a title before LeBron ever did. Well nearly 3 Miami titles and 0 Cavs playoff appearances later, Cleveland is once again looking for answers. After LeBron left, the Cavs turned into one of the worst teams in the league, the irony is, they only lost LeBron that summer. Mostly everyone else stayed, which proves again James’ value as a player in the league. So after tanking for a season they were rewarded with Kyrie Irving with the 2011 number one overall. That was probably the last meaningful pick they’ve made. Just 3 picks later with the 4th overall pick, instead of getting Klay Thompson, Kenneth Faried or Kawhi Leonard they drafted big man Tristan Thompson who isn’t horrible, but certainly is not on the level of those other players. After another understandable rebuilding year in 2011-2012, Cleveland was on the clock with the 4th overall in a pretty loaded draft. Damian Lillard, Andre Drummond, Harrison Barnes or Dion Waiters were the top to choose from and, yes, they chose the worst of the four in Waiters. Waiters, by the way, never even started in college and is now supposed to be the starter of the future. That 2012-2013 season, the Cavs were expected to, at least, compete for the playoffs and instead dropped a bomb and yet another disappointing season for their fans. In 2013 they were somehow blessed with the number one pick again and they chose an injured, out of shape, position-less player with their pick. And it’s not like this was a surprise that Anthony Bennett was this bad, even on live television; ESPN’s analysis’s instantly knew it was the wrong choice.
This past off-season, there rumors started, saying LeBron was considering Cleveland as a destination during 2014’s free agency. So the Cavs go out and instantly sign his former coach Mike Brown to a big 5-year deal. They also signed talented veterans Andrew Bynum and Jarrett Jack and suddenly looked like a legitimately staked possibly 5 seed in the weak east. How did they respond this year? Andrew Bynum’s attitude was so sour they released him. Jarrett Jack had no clear role. Anthony Bennett took a month to score his first basket. Kyrie Irving could barely stay on the court. Dion Waiters proved he was the wrong pick. The Cavs’ upper management was so determined to make the playoffs they traded away most of their assets to get 4 months of SF Luo Deng from the Bulls and in the end they ended up with another 30 win season. Mike Brown, after only 1 of the 5 years was let go. So how are the Cavs rewarded by the basketball Gods? Of course with the number one pick in the best draft in years. I really feel bad for Wiggins or Parker or whoever else will be thrown into this dumpster fire of a team this summer. I just hope whoever comes in (it won’t be LeBron) can somehow, someway, revive professional basketball in Cleveland, they deserve better.