Greatest All-Time Starting 5: Cleveland Cavaliers
Here at Off the Glass we’re taking on the arduous task of going through every NBA teams’ greatest possible starting five, using players that have played for that franchise. A player at each position (Point Guard through Center) will be selected, along with a 6th man who can be any position.
This is how it works:
Players selected must have played at least two full seasons for the franchise
The selection will be based on a combination of statistics, accomplishments/accolades and their significance to the franchise in question
Players had to have predominantly played at that particular position for at least one season to be eligible
Let’s get started.
Point Guard –Kyrie Irving: A lot of people will think that it is a little too early in Kyrie’s career to already call him the greatest point guard in Cavs history. With that being said, given how bad the previous Cavaliers teams were, it’s hard for me to fill this spot with a Mark Price or an Andre Miller. Not only has Kyrie produced great stat line after great stat line, but he’s also a proven winner (thanks in part to LeBron James). Although he is young, Irving has already put together a very impressive resume as an NBA Champion, Olympic and FIBA World Cup gold medalist, FIBA World Cup MVP, All-Star Game MVP, Rookie of the Year and USA Basketball Athlete of the Year in 2014. He may be young, but I think it’s pretty clear that Kyrie has a very bright future ahead of him.
Shooting Guard –Austin Carr: Austin Carr spent all but 1 of his 10 NBA seasons playing for the Cleveland Cavaliers. Also known as ‘Mr. Cavalier’, Carr has become synonymous with the Cavs organization and now serves as a color commentator for the Cavs’ home game broadcasts. Carr was the first overall pick in the 1971 NBA draft and he didn’t disappoint as his arrival eventually led to the franchise’s first playoff berth and division title in 1976. During his time with the Cavs Carr was an All-Star, elected to the All-Rookie First Team, and averaged 16.2 PPG. In 1981, the Cavaliers organization retired his number 34 jersey immediately following his retirement.
Small Forward – LeBron James: No offense to any of the other players on this list, but LeBron James should really be listed here at every position, including 6th man (he came off the bench for one game during his first stint with the Cavs after returning from an ankle injury). Outside of that, there really isn’t anything to be said here – LeBron is, without a doubt, (and by FAR) the greatest Cavalier of all time. Just look at the Cavaliers’ entire franchise win/loss record with and without LeBron on the floor:
That’s a huge difference made by just one player. In fact, before drafting LeBron, the Cavs had only won 4 playoff series in franchise HISTORY. With Lebron on the roster they had won 4 series within 4 years of drafting him and have won 15 series in total, including 3 trips to the NBA Finals. It’s pretty clear how much of an impact Lebron has had on the Cavaliers franchise, but in case you need more evidence, let’s look at the Cavaliers career leaderboard:
It will be interesting to see what the leaderboard looks like when LeBron retires.
Power Forward – Larry Nance: After being traded to Cleveland during the 1987/1988 season, Larry Nance would close out his career playing for the Cavs during the franchise’s most successful stretch of the pre-Lebron era. The Cavs qualified for the playoffs in 5 of the 7 seasons he spent in Cleveland, which included a run to the conference finals in 1992. During that time, Nance was named an All-Star twice and was elected to the All-NBA Defensive team 3 times. His career averages as a Cavalier were 16.8 PPG, 8.2 RPG, and 2.5 BPG; good enough to see his number 22 jersey hang in the rafters of the Quicken Loans Arena.
Center – Brad Daugherty: The career of Daugherty was unfortunately cut short due to a series of injuries; however in the time he spent on the court, he was outstanding. Dougherty’s injuries however, not only hurt his own career, but it also really hurt the Cavaliers organization. In 1992 the Cavs went on a post-season run to the conference finals, and then followed that up with a run to the conference semis in 1993. Unfortunately when Daugherty finally had to retire in 1994, the Cavaliers wouldn’t again make it out of the first round until 2006. During his time with the Cavs, the 5-time All-Star would average 19 PPG to go along with 9.5 RPG, and in 1992 was named to the All-NBA 3rd team.
6th Man – Mark Price: Mark Price was, in many ways, the anti-Kyrie. While Kyrie is flashy and at times unpredictable, Mark Price was a model of consistency and efficiency. With that being said Price never had Kyrie’s athleticism or pure talent, which is why he finds himself as the Cavaliers 6th man. Mark Price was a true point guard - he shot the ball efficiently (he was the first player to join the 50/40/90 club after Larry Bird) and he managed to keep his teammates involved. He wasn’t without his shortcomings though, as he was a poor on the ball defender and somewhat turnover prone. Regardless, there haven’t been many point guards better than Mark Price. His skill-set was timeless and would translate well into any era of NBA basketball. If I was making this list in 2002, I’d have a hard time choosing any Cavaliers player over Mark Price.
Did I miss any of your favorite Cavs? Let me know if you agree or disagree – @awrxshxx