The Cleveland Cavaliers are still in their development phase. They have a relatively young, but talented team. There is an immense amount of history in Cleveland basketball. Here is a list of the most memorable Cavaliers.
Honorable Mention: Austin Carr, Shooting Guard
Austin Carr, dubbed “Mr. Cavalier” during his nine-year career in Cleveland, set some impressive records that still stand now, though his tenure with the team ended after the 1979-80 season. His 4,727 field goals made is second only to LeBron James’ 8,369 and his 10,265 points are still good for fourth overall behind James, Zydrunas Ilgauskas and Brad Daugherty. His averages of 16.2 points, 3.0 rebounds and 2.9 assists per game don’t get him into the team’s top eight, but he is definitely worthy of a mention. Carr is now one of the voices of the team, working as a color commentator for Bally Sports Ohio. He also serves as Director of Community Relations for the Cavs.
8. Kevin Love, Center
Love continued his father’s, Stan Love, legacy being drafted to the Minnesota Timberwolves in 2008. Love made his debut with the Cavs in 2015. This five-time All-Star was instrumental in the 2016 season, scoring 19 points per game and with a 47 percent field goal percentage. Moreover, Love is fourth in Cavs history for rebounds per game. He averages 9.8 rebounds a game.
Love’s calf injury has severely plagued his last season and the opportunity to play in the 2020 Olympics. Still a Cavalier, Love will start in his eighth season as a mentor to the young Cavs team.
- Robert “Bingo” Smith, Small Forward
Bingo Smith played for the Cleveland Cavs for nine seasons from 1971-80. Smith averaged 13.2 points and 4.2 rebounds in 720 games with the Cavs. Smith is still sixth in Cavs history for scoring with 9,513 points. Smith also shot the game winner for the Cavs very first playoff win. He also had 17 points in that game.
In 1979, the Cavaliers retired his #7 jersey. In 2017, Smith was inducted into the Ohio Basketball Hall of Fame.
- John Williams, Forward
John “Hot Rod” Williams spent nine seasons as a Cavalier,1986-95. Williams averaged 12.9 points, 7.1 rebounds and 2.1 assists per game. Williams was a second round pick from the Cavs in 1985. Williams was best known for being the sixth man. He was usually overshadowed by Larry Nance Sr. and Brad Daugherty, however Williams was a pivotal part of the team.
22 years after Hot Rod’s retirement, he remains second in blocks for the Cavs. He accomplished approximately 1,200 blocks for the Cavs. Additionally, Williams continues to be in third place for minutes played for the Cavs. Williams played 20,802 minutes in his Cavs tenure.
5. Mark Price, Point Guard
The current Denver Nuggets assistant coach was quite the star for Cleveland. Mark Price played for the Cavs for nine seasons from 1986-95. The four-time NBA All-Star remains second in Cavs history for the most steals and second in assists, after LeBron James. Price compiled 734 steals and 4,206 assists. Not to mention, Price shot 40 percent from three-point range and had a 90 percent free throw percentage.
Price ended his Cavalier run averaging 16.4 points, 7.2 assists, and 1.3 steals per game with an astounding .906 free throw percentage. Last year, the Cavs retired number 25.
- Zydrunas Ilgauskas, Center
Another Cavalier legend is two-time All-Star Zydrunas Ilgauskas. The center spent a dozen seasons as a Cavalier from 2001-11. Ilgauskas averaged 13.8 points, 7.7 rebounds and 1.6 blocks in his Cavs career. No Cavs player has exceeded “Big Z'” in blocks or offensive rebounds. Zydrunas executed 1,269 blocks and 2,591 offensive rebounds. Although Ilgauskas also has the Cavs title for the most personal fouls, he’s second in points for the franchise, scoring 10,616 points.
Cleveland retired Ilgauskas his jersey number 11 in 2014.
Honorable Mention: Collin Sexton, Point Guard
Collin Sexton only has three seasons with the Cleveland Cavaliers without playoff experience. However, that does not minimize the amount of grit Sexton offers. In just Sexton’s third season, he is fourth in Cavs history for points per game. Sexton averages 20.2 points, 3.4 assists and 3.0 rebounds per game.
It would be asinine for Cleveland not to offer Sexton a supermax next season. His dedication is apparent and he is coachable. Additionally, the camaraderie of Sexton and teammate Darius Garland is advantageous for the rest of the team.
- Larry Nance Sr., Power Forward
Larry Nance Sr. was the Cavs power forward for seven seasons, 1987-94). Nance Sr. averaged an overall 16.8 points, 8.2 rebounds, and 2.6 assists per game with .530 field goal shooting. “Leapin’ Larry” cemented his legacy as the first winner of the NBA Slam Dunk contest in 1984. Nance Sr. still holds the title as the Cavs top rebounder.
Last July, it was announced Nance Sr. would be inducted in the Greater Cleveland Hall of Fame.
Nance Sr.’s achievements were honored by the Cavs in retiring the number 22, however Nance’s son, Larry Nance Jr., proudly wears jersey number 22.
- Kyrie Irving, Point Guard
Kyrie Irving is frequently called the most skilled in the NBA. Irving’s handles quickly made him one of the hardest point guards to guard.
Even prior to the 2016 Finals game winning shot for the Cavs against the Golden State Warriors, the point guard had many accolades as a Cavs. Irving was the first overall pick in the 2011 NBA draft and the following season’s Rookie of the Year. Irving did not leave the Cavs on the best note, however fans cannot deny his contributions to the team in his six seasons.
1. LeBron James, Small Forward
You already knew when you read the title. LeBron James is the greatest of this generation and holds the first place in the Cavs record for games played, minutes played, field goals, free throws, defensive rebounds, and much more.
Cleveland’s heart broke on July 8, 2010 when James decided to take his talents to Miami. But, we all know the story. In 2014, James returned in hopes for a triumph. The 2016 Finals was debatably one of the most difficult NBA championships. The sole chip the Cavs have was due to James returning to Cleveland with a mission. Despite James’ desire to retire as a Los Angeles Laker, he will always be revered as a Cleveland legend.
There are a multitude of Cavalier players that were exceptional. But, the kid from Akron is debatably the greatest of all time.
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