LeBron James is currently trying to win an NBA championship with the LA Lakers. However, his former team was not even close to making the playoffs this season — the Cleveland Cavaliers. With the NBA draft lottery in the rearview mirror, the Cavaliers can now look at potential players to draft with the fifth overall pick. They actually might not keep that pick, though, as the Cavaliers are expected to make a massive move this offseason.
The Cleveland Cavaliers have not been successful without LeBron James
Prior to the Cleveland Cavaliers drafting James in the 2003 NBA draft, the Cavaliers had not made the playoffs since the 1997-98 season. They had also not made it past the First Round since 1992-93.
Then starting in 2005-06, James led the Cavaliers to five consecutive trips to the playoffs, making it past the First Round each time. James also led the Cavaliers to the NBA Finals in 2006-07, and to the Eastern Conference Finals in 2008-09.
In 2010-11, James joined the Miami Heat, and he played in Miami for four seasons. In those four seasons, the Cavaliers missed the playoffs each year and won fewer than 25 games in three of those four seasons.
James then returned to the Cavaliers in 2014-15. He ultimately led the Cavaliers to four straight NBA Finals appearances, and they won the NBA championship in 2015-16.
In 2018-19, though, James left the Cavaliers and joined the LA Lakers. The Cavaliers have immediately became one of the worst teams in the league since then too. They went 19-63 in 2018-19 before going 19-46 in 2019-20.
The Cavaliers have had the No. 5 overall pick in 2 consecutive seasons
In a pick from the Boston Celtics, the Cavaliers drafted Collin Sexton with the No. 8 overall pick in the 2018 NBA draft.
Then, despite being tied for the second-worst record in the NBA in 2018-19, the Cavaliers only got the fifth overall pick in the 2019 NBA draft. The Cavaliers selected Darius Garland with that pick, and then selected Dylan Windler with the No. 26 overall pick before also acquiring Kevin Porter Jr. in that draft via trade.
The Cavaliers continued to struggle in 2019-20 without James, though, as they had the second-worst record in the NBA. They still, however, only got the fifth overall pick in the 2020 draft too as they are behind the Minnesota Timberwolves, Golden State Warriors, Charlotte Hornets, and Chicago Bulls.
LeBron James’ former team is expected to make a big move this offseason
Other than Windler, who did not play in his rookie season due to an injury, the Cavaliers saw their young guys play well the past couple of seasons. Sexton averaged 16.7 points per game in his rookie season before averaging 20.8 points per game in 2019-20. Garland, on the other hand, averaged 12.3 points per game in his rookie season, and Porter averaged 10 points per game.
Now, it might be time to add a star veteran to play with these guys, along with Kevin Love and Andre Drummond.
According to Sports Illustrated, an opposing executive doesn’t think the Cavaliers want to keep the No. 5 overall pick.
“I don’t know that for certainty — but I’ve spoken to enough people over there that I know they don’t really want to bring in another young unknown,” the exec said, according to Sports Illustrated.
He also added, “I strongly believe they will end up trading it.”
Additionally, several sources told Sports Illustrated that Cavaliers owner Dan Gilbert has made it clear that he wants the Cavs to start winning. The opposing exec said that Gilbert is starting to put pressure on GM Koby Altman. The exec also noted that there doesn’t appear to be an ultimatum or deadline, but that there seems to be a sense that they need to start improving.
The Cavaliers have additionally been linked to trade rumors for Ben Simmons recently, and the exec said to Sports Illustrated that they could offer a good package for him.
It will be interesting to see what the Cavaliers will do, though. Maybe, they can finally start winning without LeBron James.
Stats courtesy of Basketball Reference