The Cleveland Cavaliers have enjoyed some of the greatest draft picks in NBA history. In 2003, they drafted LeBron James at #1, and he turned out to be one of the greatest NBA players in the history of the league.
In 2011, The Cavs got the #1 pick again and drafted Kyrie Irving. Both players were instrumental for Cleveland, as they led the franchise to their first-ever NBA Championship in 2016. However, not all their picks have been that successful.
In 2013, the Cavs drafted Anthony Bennett at #1 in the draft. Bennett was a colossal failure who left the NBA in 2017.
ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski did a special podcast outlining Giannis Antetokounmpo’s entry into the NBA. Woj discussed Cleveland’s 2013 first overall pick on the podcast.
“For the Cleveland Cavaliers, the 2013 NBA Draft represented the third time in the decade the franchise landed the number one pick. Those were easy choices. Coronations. Raucous Draft night celebrations.
“This time, number one felt more like an albatross than a blessing. In a perpetual state of pre-draft crisis, The Cavaliers front office searched out trade scenarios and talked themselves in and out of players.
“They never stopped hoping for someone to bail them out.”
The Cavaliers were fielding offers from all teams in order to get a good return on their #1 draft pick. Former Phoenix Suns GM Ryan McDonough outlined how he was in negotiations with Cavs officials very late.
“I believe the deal was the 5th pick and the 30th pick for number one and then we were going to take back Alonzo Gee’s contract, whom they were trying to move to clear cap space.”
He noted that the Cavs’ GM Chris Grant and his executives rejected his trade offer at the last minute, despite not having any solid plans for their pick.
“And I think the Cavs seriously considered that…I got a call back from some of the people who worked for Chris (Grant) and said ‘we’re not going to do the deal with you, we’re sticking and keeping #1.’”
When he asked the Cavs about their plans for their pick, he was shocked to hear their lack of direction. “I said ‘okay, we’re sitting here at five, can you tell us who you’re going to take’.
“And this is after David Stern had gone up to the podium and said the Cleveland Cavaliers are on the clock, they have five minutes.
“The guy I talked to in Cleveland said, ‘I don’t know who we’re going to take’. ‘What do you mean you don’t know. You’ve got three minutes left’ or whatever it was at this point.
“And he said, ‘yeah we’re still talking about it in the room’. If I can sum it up, that draft was sheer lunacy.”
The Cavaliers’ lack of direction resulted in them selecting Anthony Bennett at #1. He became one of the biggest busts in NBA history. We’ll see if there is another bust like Bennett in the 2020 NBA Draft. The Draft will be held on 18th November 2020.
Get notified about breaking news and watch highlights on the go; join the Arena on NBA Hoops