For a team that has historically struggled to attract superstars, but also had the best player in the league on their roster, the Cleveland Cavaliers knew they needed to make forward-thinking decisions when surrounding LeBron James with talent.
After all, a team made up of James and ancillary pieces can finish with the best record in the league, while feasting on the Eastern Conference. But in order to achieve playoff success, the team needed more.
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So who did the Cavaliers take with the final first-round pick in this draft to work towards that goal?
They picked Congolese forward Christian Eyenga, who tallied -.002 WS/48 in two seasons. With so many players passed over and undervalued, the Cavaliers took that guy? He wasn’t even on some people’s draft boards! No wonder LeBron left for the Miami Heat.
This isn’t to say that Cleveland missed a chance to grab a superstar in this spot. There’s a reason why teams tend to tank to get higher draft picks instead of settling for, say, the 15th overall pick.
But this is where the good teams tend to find hidden value to give their franchise that extra push toward title contention.
In this version of the draft, taking former North Carolina Tar Heels marksman Wayne Ellington would’ve helped give James the space he needed to bulldoze opponents on his way to the rim, while giving LeBron an open outlet whenever the defense collapsed to wall him off.
Who knows, maybe that would’ve been enough to get the Cavaliers over the hump and keep LeBron in his hometown. Ha, just kidding!