The Cleveland Cavalier franchise has had five first overall picks in the books. In over forty years of history, we have had only the opportunity to choose first only five times. Do you know who these players are?

The first was Austin Carr. He born on March 10th, 1948 and grew up in Washington, D.C. He was a highly coveted shooting guard that scored over two thousand points in high school. The young guard decided to attend the University of Notre Dame.

In his three year career there, Carr put up 2,560 points averaging 34.5 points per game. That’s a wow factor right there. He was ranked fifth all time in college basketball history at the time. Carr became the second collegiate player to score one thousand points in a season.

Austin Carr holds some National Collegiate Athlete Association records. He has most points in a game, scoring 61 against Ohio in 1970. Carr also has most field goals (25) and most field goal attempts (44) in a game. In seven career playoff games, he owns a ridiculous fifty points per game average. Should I say wow factor again?

The Cleveland Cavaliers started as an expansion team in 1970. After a losing season, they owned the number one draft pick in 1971. Austin Carr was the obvious choice and now owns the nickname “Mr. Cavalier.”

Carr was plagued by foot injuries in his rookie campaign. He broke his foot in preseason that kept him out the first month of the season. About four weeks after his return, another foot injury made him miss seven more weeks. Carr proved himself to be the number one pick when he returned and made the 1972 NBA All-Rookie team.

The shooting guard turned in his best season in 1973-1974. He averaged 21.9 points, 3.6 rebounds, and 3.76 assists per game. Carr even shot 85.6% from the free throw line. The next season a knee injury caused him to miss significant time. The Cavaliers missed their first ever playoff berth by one game.

Fortunately, Cleveland reached the playoffs for the next three years. Unfortunately, we didn’t win a championship. In ’76, we lost to the Celtics in the Eastern Conference Finals. The Cavs then made two first round exits in ‘77 and ’78, losing to the Washington Bullets and then the Knicks.

Mr. Cavalier didn’t win any rings but he has some good accomplishments. In 1971, he was named the Naismith College Player of the Year as well as the Associated Press College Basketball Player of the Year.

Austin Carr retired in 1981 with career averages of 15.4 points, 2.9 rebounds, and 2.8 assists per game. Since then, he has been nominated into the College Basketball Hall of Fame and the Cleveland Sports Hall of Fame.

Our franchise didn’t get another number one pick until 1986 and that man was Brad Daugherty.

The dominate center grew up and went to college in North Carolina. He was selected to the All-ACC First Team two times while attending the University of North Carolina. As a senior, he averaged over 20 points per game and was First Team All-American.

Cleveland made a trade with the 76ers to claim the top pick and went all in on Brad Daugherty. He made the All-Rookie team that year. During eight seasons with the Cavs, he put up 19 points, 10 rebounds, and 3.7 assists per game.

The Cleveland center played in 41 postseason games, but doesn’t own a ring. The furthest that he got was the Eastern Conference Finals in 1992. The Cavs lost to Jordan and the Bulls in six games.

The five time All-Star was selected to the All-Time Cleveland Cavalier Team and elected to the North Carolina Sports Hall of Fame. His number 43 jersey was retired by the franchise.

Daugherty stopped playing professional ball at age 28 due to chronic back problems. He retired as the franchise’s all time leading scorer (10,389) and rebounder (5,227). Both accomplishments were passed in 2008. Lebron James is our leading scorer and Zydrunas Ilgauskas is our leading rebounder.

Speaking of Lebron James, he was our third first overall pick.

The Akron native began his road to stardom at St. Vincent-St. Mary High School. The highly coveted forward gained national attention and was dubbed as a future superstar. His high school accomplishments were ridiculous.

As a freshman, he led his team to an undefeated season ending with a Division III state title. In his sophomore year, they went 26-1 and repeated as state champs. He was the first sophomore to be named Ohio’s Mr. Basketball and selected to the USA Today All-USA First Team. James became the first underclass high school player to appear on the cover of Sports Illustrated as a junior. He also became the first junior to win the Gatorade National Player of the Year award. After a 23-4 season, his team lost in the Division II championship game.

Lebron James wanted to declare for the 2002 draft, but due to league rules, he was not allowed. The Ohio native was required to graduate high school first. He returned to high school and finished his senior year, averaging 30 plus points, 9 plus rebounds, 4 plus assists, and 3 plus steals per game. This year also marked the third consecutive time that the forward was named Ohio’s Mr. Basketball and selected to the USA Today All-USA First Team. James also won Gatorade National Player of the Year back to back.

Lebron James was clearly the number one choice of the 2003 draft and Cleveland was awarded that pick. In his first professional game, he scored 25 points, most by a prep to pro player in their debut. Later in the season, he became the youngest (19 years old) to score at least 40 points. He was the first Cavalier to win Rookie of the Year and joined the likes of Oscar Robertson and Michael Jordan as the only rookies to average at least 20 points, 5 rebounds, and 5 assists.

In his second year, the 20 year old became the youngest to record a triple double. James also put up a career high 56 points versus Toronto. This set a new single game record for our franchise. James was selected to his first All-Star game and also became the youngest to be named to an All-NBA team, making the All-NBA Second Team.

The 2006 season was highlighted with more career achievements. At 21 years of age, he was the youngest to win the All-Star game Most Valuable Player award. James finished second in the MVP race despite being the youngest to average at least 30 points per game in a season. He was selected to his first All-NBA First Team and led the Cavs to the playoffs for the first time since 1998.

In his playoff debut, James recorded a triple double against the Wizards. In the same series, he hit his first game winning shot in game three and again in game five. The very next year, Cleveland made the playoffs again with another consecutive 50 win season. The power forward set a franchise playoff record by scoring 48 points in Detroit, scoring 29 of the last 30 Cavalier points. Lebron James single handedly led us to the Finals only to get swept by the Spurs.

During the 2007-08 campaign, James earned his second All-Star MVP award, won his first scoring title (30 points per game), and set a team record by registering seven triple double that year. The new face of the franchise passed Brad Daugherty as our leading scorer. It also took him 100 less games to do so.

The Cavs won a franchise record 66 games during the 2008-09 season. James became the first Cavalier to win a Most Valuable Player award. The next year had similar results, we finished with the league’s best record and James won his second MVP award. This was the last year that the nine time All-Star played for Cleveland.

The 2010 free agency period was headlined by controversy. “The Decision” from Lebron James left Clevelanders heartbroken and angry. He promised us a trophy, failed, and abandoned ship.

Lebron made a trip to the finals in his first year with Miami. They lost to the Dallas Mavericks in six games. The next year, James won his third MVP award, his first championship, and secured the Finals MVP award. This past year, 2012-13 season, the Ohio native won his fourth MVP award. He led the team to the finals again, and powered past San Antonio for win his second consecutive ring. James tied a finals game seven record by scoring 37 points. He won finals MVP for the second straight year.

Lebron James became the third player to win back-to-back regular season MVPs and NBA titles, joining Bill Russell and Michael Jordan. Jordan and James are the only players to win back-to-back regular season and finals MVPs.

Cleveland lost their franchise player so we had to rebuild and rise from the ashes. Kyrie Irving is the new face of the Cavaliers.

The point guard was born in Australia but grew up in New Jersey. He spent his first two years of high school at Montclair Kimberly Academy. There he became the second player to score over a thousand points. As a sophomore, he led his team to their first New Jersey Prep ‘B’ state title.

Deciding that he needed more of a challenge, he transferred to St. Patrick High School. Despite sitting out 30 games, due to the transfer, his team still won the New Jersey Tournament of Champions title. During the off season, he led the USA East team to a Nike Global Challenge title. He won tournament MVP, averaging over 21 points and 4 assists per game. As a high school senior, St. Patrick went 24-3 and won the Union County Tournament championship.

After high school, Irving won co-MVP in the 2010 Jordan Brand Classic. The young guard also won a gold medal in the FIBA-Americas Under-18 Championship before attending Duke University. In the first eight games, he led the team with 17.4 points per game on 53.2% shooting. The freshman suffered a ligament injury in his right big toe that sidelined him for most of the season. Irving came back to play in the NCAA tournament, but didn’t quite make it to the championship.

Despite his critics and lack of collegiate playing time, he declared for the 2011 draft. The Cleveland Cavaliers found their new face of the franchise in Kyrie Irving.

Through the first 23 games of the year, Irving had ten 20 plus point games. He even scored 32, 21 fourth quarter points, in a loss versus the Nets. The point guard won MVP honors in the 2012 Rising Stars Challenge. He won Rookie of the Year and was voted to the All-Rookie First Team.

His sophomore campaign was plagued by injuries. Even before the season began, he broke his right hand after hitting a padded wall. Irving missed another three weeks due to an injured index finger. After his return, he scored a career high 41 points against the Knicks. He played that game with a protective mask on due to a broken facial bone. The guard was the youngest player to score 40 points in Madison Square Garden; he was a year younger than when Michael Jordan did it in 1985.

His second year was highlighted by his first All-Star appearance. He also appeared in Three-Point Shootout for the first time. Irving put up 23 points in the final round to defeat Matt Bonner.

Kyrie Irving has yet to lead the Cavs to the playoffs but he is determined to. We are building around this 21 year old point guard and he welcomes the fifth first overall pick in franchise history.

Anthony Bennett became the first Canadian to go first overall when Cleveland chose him. The power forward went to school in Canada until he was 16 years old. He moved to Henderson, Nevada, to play for Findlay Prep, a basketball preparatory academy. As a McDonald’s High School All-American he had a choice between the University of Oregon and the University of Nevada Las Vegas.

Bennett played 35 games for the UNLV Runnin’ Rebels, mostly at power forward, but played at small forward as well. Despite only averaging 27 minutes per game, he averaged over 16 points and 8 rebounds. His field goal percentage was 53.3% and shot 37.5% from three point range. Bennett suffered a shoulder injury mid season, which limited his minutes and caused him not to start some games.

After a second round loss in the NCAA tournament, he declared for the 2013 draft. The Canadian joins the efforts of Kyrie Irving and the Cleveland Cavaliers to become National Basketball Association Champions.

Two out of five first overall picks are on the Cavs current roster. During the 2014 free agency period, rumor has it that we want to bring another back, Lebron James. The Cavs are a young team that could use a dominate force such as James. Will this happen? I can’t give a definite answer, but only time will tell what the future will bring.

-Max Gold

Image Credited to: www.cleveland.com

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