A few weeks from now, the Cavaliers are set to play their first playoff game in four years. The ride has been up and down to say the least, from being one of the league’s best in 2010 at 62-20 to enduring four grueling years of playing for ping pong balls and eventually reclaiming their lost luster. One can’t help but tread down memory lane from the time when the Cavs were this close to an NBA title and entertain all the “what ifs”. We have compiled the Cavaliers’ best acquisitions, whether they’re still in Cleveland or not, between the infamous “The Decision” TV spectacle and the celebrated “I’m Coming Home” letter, what they bring/brought to the team, and if it could have addressed any holes in the 2009-2010 Cleveland Cavaliers team, regardless of their age and situation back in those years.
10 – Shaun Livingston
Shaun Livingston is one of the better success stories in league history after successfully returning from a gruesome knee injury. Other than that, he brings a special advantage to the basketball court with his size alone. But he’s not just tall (for a point guard, 6’7”). He also has the skills as he can effectively post up defenders with relative fluidity and he’s an above average defender due to his length. Livingston would have brought a whole new dimension to the Cavalier defense as he would have been tasked to cover Rajon Rondo in the East Semis while also providing an unusual source of low post points.
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9 – C.J. Miles
The Cavaliers had Anthony Parker who was an “okay” two guard back then but his ceiling or his probability for exploding was limited. CJ Miles, on the other hand, is a more explosive scorer and he plays the same position as AP; in fact, Miles even held the Cavalier record for most threes in a game at one point.
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8 – Tristan Thompson
Tristan Thompson had very raw potential coming out of Texas in the same draft as one Kyrie Irving. Thompson’s best skill that he’s developed over the years is his rebounding. Boy, this guy is an absolute monster on the board, especially on the offensive end. This season, he is averaging 3.4 offensive rebounds per game, good for fourth in the NBA behind Andre Drummond, DeAndre Jordan, and Tyson Chandler. But those guys all starting and playing at least 31 minutes per game. Thompson comes off the bench for a Cavalier squad that has rebounding specialists, making his numbers even more impressive. In the offseason before the 2013-14 season, Tristan decided to change his shooting hand from left to right, clearly showing his commitment to getting better. He’s in a contract year, and hoping to get a big paycheck at the end of this year.
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7 – Jarrett Jack
Jarrett Jack fits the mold of a true backup point guard. He`s that veteran presence who teams can rely on whenever he`s on the court. He can take over stretches with his confidence and offensive skill. Daniel Gibson could have used this skill as Boobie was purely a spot up shooter but Jack can take his man off the dribble and create for himself. Not only that, he`s also proven to be able to play effectively with ball dominant players such during his stint with the Warriors.
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6 – Iman Shumpert
LeBron James was already an elite stopper back then but aside from him, Delonte West was probably the Cavs’ best perimeter defender. Obviously, West has his limitations due to his size and this where Iman Shumpert comes in. The former Yellow Jacket brings with him excellent speed and length to chase Ray Allen down the floor and also the athleticism to guard the Dwyane Wade’s of the NBA. He could have also helped out on Paul Pierce at times. Shumpert is, to say the least, a highly committed defender.
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5 – Kevin Love
The Cavaliers’ main post presence in the 2009-2010 season was Zydrunas Ilgauskas with Shaquille O’Neal being much less of a threat with old age. This is where prized power forward Kevin Love’s skills could have been useful. Although he isn’t being utilized in the post so far by Coach David Blatt, Love can dominate down the block when given the touches and with the way the Cavaliers’ offense was structured back then, they could have used Kevin Love’s post skills especially in the playoffs to wear out Kevin Garnett of the Celtics. Love can also stretch the floor more than Z does with his range that goes as far as the three point area.
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4 – Timofey Mozgov
Timofey “Maserati” Mozgov offers above average athleticism for a man his size. None of the Cavalier bigs in the 2009-2010 season came close to the ease that Mozzy coasts back and forth on the floor. It could have helped a lot as it would have given the Cavs someone who can stay in front of Kevin Garnett in the East Semis matchup against Boston. He’s also able to play the pick-and-pop albeit not with the consistency, efficiency, and range that Z had. But Mozgov do possess quite some talents and he’s able to pull off some nifty moves here and there.
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3 – J.R. Smith
JR Smith is that 3-and-D player whom the Cavs sorely lacked in 2009-2010. His combination of skills, athleticism, and teeth on defense is a major ingredient to a team’s success. Delonte West probably was the closest but his height prevented him from going all out on every starting 2-guard of their opponents. Smith is also quite the wildcard as he’s capable of exploding night after night and none of the Cavalier guards back then (Mo Williams, Delonte West, Daniel Gibson, Anthony Parker) had that ability.
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2 – David Blatt
MIke Brown, for all his defensive genius, proved to be a weak link as he failed to give the Cavaliers plenty of offensive options other than milking out LeBron James’ talent. Still, that strategy got them to 6th place in the league’s offensive rating list. With David Blatt, the Cavaliers are now enjoying the second best offensive rating in the league and it could have been tops no thanks to the shaky start of the Cavs. Not bad for a first year coach. Some people might discredit him a bit because of the talented personnel in Cleveland but we’ve already seen talented teams go down with coaches who are clueless in handling that type of a group but Blatt has made these players work in perfect harmony. That says a lot about the “rookie” tactician.
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1 – Kyrie Irving
Mo Williams was an effective point guard who was able to shoot the lights out but he was too inconsistent, especially in the playoffs, and his defense left plenty to be desired. Enter Kyrie Irving who, at a young age, has already entered the ranks of the NBA’s elite point guards. Although he hasn’t played a playoff game yet, his offensive skills make him one of the most lethal weapons in the league and he’s already making leaps and bounds with his defense.