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Top Ten Players In Cleveland Cavaliers History - Upside Hoops

Top Ten Players In Cleveland Cavaliers History

Founded in 1970, the Cleveland Cavaliers had one of the most frustrating stretches in the NBA, not winning their first championship until 2016. Contributing significantly to the heartbreak of many Cleveland fans for decades.

Despite toiling for what seemed like eons, the Cleveland Cavaliers have actually had 6 number one picks in the history of the NBA Draft dating back to 1947 – more than any other NBA franchise.

Here is a look at the ten best players to ever lace up for the Cleveland Cavaliers.

Honorable Mentions:

World B. Free – Nicknamed World due to his sensational vertical leaping ability, Lloyd Bernard Free spent four seasons with the Cleveland Cavaliers where he provided much needed scoring.

Austin Carr – Carr was selected with the first overall pick in the 1971 NBA Draft by the Cleveland Cavaliers. Carr would be selected to one All-Star team and play nine seasons for the franchise.


10. John Hot Rod Williams
Hot Rod

Career stats with the Cavaliers: 12.9 PPG, 7.1 RPG, 2.1 APG, 0.9 SPG (1986-1995)

Hot Rod was drafted by and spent nine seasons with the Cleveland Cavaliers. For much of his time with the Cavs, Williams functioned primarily as a sixth man. Williams peaked in the 1989-90 season, averaging 16.8 points per game, 8.1 rebounds per game and over 2 blocks per game.


9. Tristan Thompson
Tristan Thompson

Career stats with the Cavaliers: 9.4 PPG, 8.7 RPG, 1.0 APG, 0.5 SPG (2011-2020)

After being selected fourth overall in the 2011 NBA Draft by the Cleveland Cavaliers, Thompson was the highest drafted Canadian born player at the time. Thompson made a name for himself by being a consistent and outstanding offensive rebounder.


8. Anderson Varejao
Anderson Varejao

Career stats with the Cavaliers: 7.6 PPG, 7.5 RPG, 1.2 APG, 0.9 SPG (2004-2015)

Largely viewed as exclusively as an effort player, Varejao proved to be an outstanding defender and rebounder for the Cleveland Cavaliers. In 2010, he was selected to an All-Defensive Second Team.


7. Kevin Love
Kevin Love

Career stats with the Cavaliers: 17.2 PPG, 10.0 RPG, 2.3 APG, 0.7 SPG (2014-2020)

Traded to the Cavaliers specifically at the behest of LeBron James, Love arrived in Cleveland and went from being a borderline MVP candidate to a markedly decreased role alongside LeBron and Irving. Despite this, Love still contributed significantly with excellent shooting and voracious rebounding.


6. Kyrie Irving
Kyrie Irving

Career stats with the Cavaliers: 21.6 PPG, 3.4 RPG, 5.5 APG, 1.3 SPG (2011-2020)

Frequently outspoken but extremely talented, Kyrie Irving has one of the most dazzling skill sets in the NBA today. With his hypnotizing ball-handling skills and dependable jump shot, Irving was a necessary number two option for LeBron in order to for them to capture the championship.


5. Larry Nance
Larry Nance

Career stats with the Cavaliers: 16.8 PPG, 8.2 RPG, 2.6 APG, 0.8 SPG (1987-1994)

After a trade that shipped Nance and Mike Sanders from the Phoenix Suns to the Cleveland Cavaliers, Nance spent the entire second half of his career with the franchise. Despite being 29 at the time of the trade, Nance enjoyed some of his best seasons in Cleveland. As a Cav he would garner two All-Star selections and three All-Defensive Team selections.

4. Zydrunas Ilgauskas
Zydrunas Ilgauskas

Career stats with the Cavaliers: 13.8 PPG, 7.7 RPG, 1.2 APG, 0.5 SPG (1996-2010)

Except for his final season where he played with the Miami Heat, Zydrunas Ilgauskas was practically a Cavalier lifer. The towering Lithuanian stood at 7’3” and possessed deft footwork, making him a capable scoring threat deep into his career.

3. Brad Daugherty
Cleveland Cavaliers

Career stats with the Cavaliers: 19.0 PPG, 9.5 RPG, 3.7 APG, 0.8 SPG (1986-1994)

A talented, scoring center – Brad Daugherty spent his entire career with the Cleveland Cavaliers after they selected him with the first overall pick in the 1986 NBA Draft. He was the franchise’s all-time leader in points and rebounds until LeBron James and Zydrunas Ilgauskas respectively broke his records.

2. Mark Price
Cleveland Cavaliers

Career stats with the Cavaliers: 16.4 PPG, 2.6 RPG, 7.2 APG, 1.3 SPG (1986-1995)

Price was the rare breed of point guard that was both undersized and slower than average for his position. Despite lacking both athleticism and size however, he was one of the most valuable players in the franchise’s history. The five time All-Star was only the second player in NBA history to join the revered 50-40-90 club.

1. LeBron James
Cleveland Cavaliers

Career stats with the Cavaliers: 27.2 PPG, 7.3 RPG, 7.3 APG, 0.8 SPG (2003-2010; 2014-2018)

The only thing debatable about LeBron’s legacy is whether he is in fact the greatest or second greatest player in NBA history. He is unquestionably the greatest player in Cavalier’s history. He leads the franchise in games and minutes played, total rebounds, steals, assists, free throws, 3-point field goals, and many more.

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2 thoughts on “Top Ten Players In Cleveland Cavaliers History

  1. The one that doesn’t belong is Anderson Varejao, and yet you have him at #8. The one that definitely belongs is World B. Free, and I’d have him around #6, even though to this day, he remains my #1 all time favorite Cavalier. Also, do your research a little better. He wasn’t called World for his jumping ability. From his own words, ,”they just started calling me ‘all-world’, because all-city and all-county and things like that weren’t good enough.”. Otherwise, your list is fairly inclusive of the Cavs all time best players, except for Tristan Thompson. Jim Chones was a better player than Thompson.

    1. Yeah I expect disagreement as far as the actual ranking. It is not a ranking of the best players to play for the Cavs, but rather it is a combination of their impact and tenure with the franchise.
      As far as his nickname, here is the snippet from his Wikipedia page, “He got his name from his days in Brooklyn, where a friend nicknamed him “World” because of his 44-inch vertical leap and 360 degree dunks. “

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