Its dark days as a Cavaliers fan. The team has lost Anderson Varejao for the year and have been in a two month free-fall. Losers of 19 of 20, the Wine and Gold have gone extra-young, giving big minutes to like likes of Manny Harris and Christian Eyenga. Samardo Samuels, an undrafted rookie from Louisville, has seen himself go from after-thought to rotation member as well. All of this points to mucho ping pong balls in next year’s NBA Draft Lottery.
This harkins me back to 1986, undoubtedly the greatest draft day in Cavs history. On draft day, the Cavaliers scored a coup, trading with the Philadelphia 76ers for the rights to the Number One pick. They sent over starting PF Roy Hinson, a nice player, but no All-Star. With the pick, they had the opportunity to draft College Basketball’s most electrifying player, Len Bias, but instead, went the safe route, taking Brad Daugherty, a Center from North Carolina.
Little did they know how right of a decision that would be.
Their own slot was the eighth pick. They got their big man, now they were looking for their scoring guard. The Cavaliers got their man when they snagged Ron Harper from Miami (OH). Watch the video of the actual selection, and you can here the New York crowd snicker at the selection. If they only knew…
Love the profile of him by Bob Neal who called him “arguably the best player in this draft in terms of being an athlete….. Some even say he could be the second coming of Michael Jordan.”
Back in 1986, there were only 24 picks in the first round. The first pick in the second round, #25, was owned by the Dallas Mavericks. The Cavs pulled of a second trade, receiving the pick that would end up being one of the greatest moves in franchise history. With the 25th pick, the Cavaliers selected a little Point Guard from Georgia Tech with heart, guts, and a amazing shooting touch.
That man was Mark Price.
So in the first 25 picks, the Cavaliers, a doormat team for almost a decade, drafted three future All-Stars who would start from day one. On top of that, they were bringing 1985 draft pick John “Hot Rod” Williams into the fold, who was cleared of all wrong doing in a point shaving scandal at Tulane. Throw in SG Johnny Newman, their own second round pick (#29), and the Cavs had five guys who were in the rotation right away.
Meanwhile, all five played in the NBA at least eight years (Newman, believe it or not, had the longest career – 16 years). Daugherty’s career was only cut short due to his chronic back issues, but made five all-star teams. Harper never reached his full “poor man’s Jordan” potential thanks to a knee injury while playing for the Clippers, though he won five NBA titles with the Bulls and the Lakers as a key defensive stopper.
Price made four All-Star teams, and was first team All-NBA in 1993. He is still known as one of the greatest shooters of all-time from both the free throw (90% for his career) and three-point line (40%). Price was arguably the heart and soul of the Lenny Wilkens era teams of my youth. Hot Rod played 13 years, nine with the Cavaliers, and was one of the best sixth men in the game during his prime. He was the perfect backup Power Forward/Center to spell Daugherty and Larry Nance. He had a nice mid-range jump shot, was a very solid defender and shot blocker, and could rebound with the best of ’em.
I know the game has changed, but the Cavaliers of 2011 must build the way the 1986 team was structured – through the draft. They will be one of the favorites to win the lottery and must hit with whomever they take.
Lets hope they have that 1986 luck on their side.