The Cleveland Cavaliers have made some great draft picks throughout their history, but they’ve also made some huge mistakes. Here are the five worst draft selections made by Cleveland.
5. Trajan Langdon, 1999, 11th overall
Selected over players such as Corey Maggette, Metta World Peace, and James Posey, Langdon spent three forgettable seasons in Cleveland before playing overseas. His career averages for the Cavs were 5.4 points, 1.3 rebounds, and 1.4 assists in 14.6 minutes per game. He may have been better off playing baseball; he was selected in the sixth round by the San Diego Padres in 1994 at the age of 17.
He was a massive bust as a player, but he’s had a very successful career as an executive, scouting for the San Antonio Spurs from 2012-2015, then becoming assistant general manager of the Brooklyn Nets in 2016, and is currently the GM of the New Orleans Pelicans.
4. Luke Jackson, 2004, 10th overall
A year after taking LeBron James, the Cavs needed to add talent around their 20-year-old superstar. Jackson had a great four-year career at Oregon, but played small forward, which makes his selection rather puzzling. Yes, James played shooting guard his rookie season, but has been a wing ever since.
Because of James’ presence in front of him, Jackson was unable to carve out a role for himself during his two years with the team, playing a total of 46 games and starting none. In that limited time, he spent just 7.8 minutes on the floor each game. Injuries certainly didn’t help matters, but Jackson never found his footing in the league, and was out of the game after four seasons.
3. Dion Waiters, 2012, 4th overall
Dynamic point guard Damian Lillard was staring Cleveland in the face when they were on the clock with the fourth pick, but the Cavs were worried that Lillard would just be a ball-dominant shooting guard, taking away shots from young star point guard Kyrie Irving. So they took Waiters, a ball-dominant shooting guard who took shots away from Kyrie Irving.
Waiters spent two-and-a-half seasons with the Cavaliers, and wasn’t a bad player, but once LeBron James returned, the writing was on the wall for Waiters. He just wasn’t good enough without the ball on either end of the court to coexist with James, Irving, and Kevin Love. Now with the Miami Heat, Waiters is still a very solid scorer, but that’s about it. The Cavs decided to draft “fit” over talent, and it blew up in their face. Cleveland decided not to repeat that mistake, and chose Darius Garland in last month’s draft despite already having Collin Sexton.
2. DaJuan Wagner, 2002, 6th overall
Wagner should have been a very good NBA player. In high school, he once scored 100 points in a single game. During his one year at Memphis, he averaged 21.2 points and 3.6 assists per game, and head coach John Calipari felt so strongly that Wagner should declare for the draft that he revoked his scholarship so that Wagner wouldn’t have a choice. Cleveland made him the sixth overall pick, and during his rookie season, he showed promise. In 47 games, he averaged 13.4 points in 29.5 minutes, but shot only 37% from the field.
He would go on to play 55 games over the next two seasons for the Cavs, struggling with injuries and lucrative colitis, which forced him to have half of his colon removed. He missed the entire 2005-2006 season, and attempted to make a comeback with the Golden State Warriors the next year, but played in just one game. Wagner’s bust status isn’t all his fault, but the Cavaliers could have had Caron Butler or Amar’e Stoudemire instead.
1. Anthony Bennett, 2013, 1st overall
Perhaps the biggest bust in NBA history, Bennett had no business being the first overall pick. He averaged 16.1 points and 8.1 rebounds per game at UNLV, and clearly had talent, but he was an incredibly raw player. Most top picks are more of a finished product, and Bennett was certainly not that. It took Bennett five games to make his first basket, and that was a harbinger of things to come. He didn’t score in double figures until the end of January. For his rookie season, he averaged 4.2 points and 3.0 rebounds in 12.8 minutes, while shooting 36% from the field and 25% from beyond the arc.
Bennett was traded to the Minnesota Timberwolves during the offseason, part of the package that landed Cleveland Kevin Love. Bennett didn’t fare much better in Minnesota, and was waived after the season. He then signed with the Toronto Raptors, which gave him a chance to play for his hometown team.
In between stints in the G League, Bennett played just 4.4 minutes per game in 19 contests. He spent 2016-2017 with the Brooklyn Nets, again playing sparingly. He has since played in Turkey and bounced around the G League, and recently signed a non-guaranteed deal with the Houston Rockets, which could be his last shot at sticking the NBA.