With the NBA Draft nearing, the Cleveland Cavaliers find themselves in a completely different situation. Over the last four years, the Cavs have always been in the early lottery selections, but this year Cleveland will be making its decision at number 24 thanks to the successful reason that saw them get within two wins of a championship. While it’s obvious that the lottery produces a higher chance of getting the right player, the pool outside of the top 15 isn’t short on talent either. The Cavs are still in a very good position to acquire a solid piece who could produce now or even in the next few years. To prove that, we dug deep through the last ten drafts to identify the ten best players selected anywhere from number fifteen to thirty. Other notable names outside of the list are Nikola Vucevic, Tobias Harris, Kenneth Faried, Roy Hibbert, George Hill, and Nicolas Batum.
10 – David Lee (30th in 2005 by NYK)
Although David Lee may have lost his spot in the rotation of the freshly minted Golden State Warriors, he is only one year removed from averaging near double doubles. The two-time All Star is expected to have a bounce back year in 2015-2016 if rumors are true about his possible exit from Oakland. Lee’s best statistical season was in 2009-2010 where he averaged 20.2 points, 11.7 rebounds, 3.6 assists, and 1.0 steal per game.
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9 – Jeff Teague (19th in 2009 by ATL)
It took Jeff Teague a couple of seasons before finding his niche and he has never looked back ever since. Teague’s young career peaked last season when he led the Atlanta Hawks’ attack towards their best year in franchise history, earning himself an All Star selection along the way. Teague averaged 15.9 points, 2.5 rebounds, 7.0 assists, and 1.7 steals in that particular campaign.
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8 – Ty Lawson (18th in 2009 by MIN)
The 2009 draft was an infamous one for Minnesota as they drafted three point guards in the top twenty while missing a shot on another point guard from a lesser known program who goes by the name Stephen Curry. To make things worse, the best out of those three point guards was traded on draft night to Denver. Ty Lawson has spent six productive seasons in the Mile High City where he has become one of the league’s best assist-men. Lawson’s most productive year was in 2013-2014 where he averaged 17.6 points, 3.5 rebounds, 8.8 assists, and 1.6 steals.
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7 – Jimmy Butler (30th in 2011 by CHI)
Jimmy Butler is one of best wing defenders in the NBA and is also coming off a breakout season where he averaged 20.0 points, 5.8 rebounds, 3.3 assists, and 1.8 steals. He also played for the Eastern Conference in the 2015 All Star game and was eventually named Most Improved Player. Butler has really come a long way from playing only 8.5 minutes in his first year to his current situation where he is due to receive a max contract from teams in free agency.
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6 – Kawhi Leonard (15th in 2011 by IND)
San Antonio Spurs had to let go one of Gregg Popovich’s favorite players in George Hill to be able to land Kawhi Leonard and, looking back, they absolutely got themselves a bargain. No disrespect to Hill who has been one of the better point guards in the Eastern Conference but Leonard has slowly and steadily transformed into becoming the cornerstone of the storied franchise. Leonard was named Finals MVP in 2014 and in the following year, he won the Defensive Player of the Year award.
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5 – Danny Granger (17th in 2005 by IND)
Despite being an afterthought for the past few years, Danny Granger had already collated a number of productive season topped by his 2009-2009 effort where he logged a career high 25.8 points per game along with 5.1 rebounds, 2.7 assists, 1.0 steals, and 1.4 blocks. Granger was a member of the East’s 2009 All Star team and was also named Most Improved Player in the same year. He was also a member of the Gold medal winning Team USA in the 2010 FIBA World Championship.
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4 – Eric Bledsoe (18th in 2010 by OKC)
After being drafted by Oklahoma City, Eric Bledsoe was shipped to the Los Angeles Clippers on draft night. He spent three seasons as a Clipper but his stock skyrocketed when he was traded to Phoenix. Bledsoe then emerged as one of the most prolific point guards in the league as he has churned up rock-solid numbers of 17.3 points, 5.0 rebounds, 5.9 assists, and 1.6 steals in his first two years as a Sun. In the recently concluded season, he played the eighth most minutes in the entire league.
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3 – Kyle Lowry (24th pick in 2006 by MEM)
The headstrong point guard out of Villanova spent nine solid seasons in three cities (Memphis, Houston, Toronto) after finally breaking out in his previous two campaigns. Lowry averaged 17.8 points, 4.7 rebounds, 6.8 assists, and 1.6 steals last season for the Toronto Raptors. The do-it-all point guard was named an All Star in the 2015 midseason extravaganza. He has now become one of the top floor generals in the NBA after finishing 7th and 10th in the assists department in 2013-2014 and 2014-2015, respectively.
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2 – Rajon Rondo (21st in 2006 by PHO)
The point guard out of Kentucky was traded on draft night by Phoenix to Boston where he eventually became a part of the 2008 champion Celtic team and transform into a triple double threat. The polarizing point guard has been named to four All Star teams and two All Defensive First Teams along with a few other accolades. Rondo has been a stat monster when locked in and his best year in that regard was in 2012-2013 where he averaged 13.7 points, 5.6 rebounds, 11.1 assists, and 1.8 steals.
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1 – Serge Ibaka (24th in 2008 by SEA)
Serge Ibaka was drafted in 2008 by Seattle prior to the franchise’s move to Oklahoma City. But other circumstances prompted the big man from the Republic of Congo to start his NBA career a year later. Ibaka has steadily improved his craft over the years, from being a pure shotblocker to extending his range, and is now one of the best big men in the league. Ibaka’s dominant defensive presence has been extremely crucial to the cause of Oklahoma City over the past few years as evidenced by three-straight All Defensive First Team selections from 2011 to 2014. Ibaka also led the league in total blocks from 2010 to 2014.