Building the All-Time Cavs Starting Lineup + Short Bench
As a big fan of the Cavs, I’m always imagining scenarios when their best players from the 90’s are playing together with the modern guys. And in this article, I’ll be creating a team full of the players that I believe make the best historic lineup for the team.
First will be the starting lineup, followed by a three-man bench rotation. It is hard to leave anybody out, but it will have to be done.
Starting PG: Kyrie Irving
This is the second easiest decision to make in the starting five. During his six years in Cleveland, Kyrie was a clutch as any player in the league. He made the winning basket in the seventh game of a historic NBA Finals to lift the Cavs to their first-ever title.
His ability to break down the defense and also find the open man are unparalleled at the point guard spot. Who wouldn’t want Kyrie in their lineup in a close game? No matter who else you have, he’ll make sure to keep you in any ballgame.
Starting SG: Mark Price
Putting Mark Price next to Kyrie makes too much sense to ignore. Price was fantastic during his years in Cleveland, making timely shots and passes consistently. The franchise enjoyed their best years when he was healthy and on the floor.
He was one of the best shooters of his era, and may put up Steph Curry numbers if playing in the modern era. Given how dominant he was on Lenny Wilkens teams’, let’s bring him aboard.
Starting SF: LeBron James
Four words. We. Are. All. Witnesses. LeBron had seven magical seasons in Cleveland to open his career, but reached the NBA Finals just once. As soon as he got back from Miami, the team made it to four championships in a row, claiming their first-ever title.
Not only is LeBron one of the most impressive interior finishers of all-time, he is a top passer. There are hardly any players (besides John Stockton and Magic Johnson) who you’d rather have running your offense.
When LeBron is on the Cavs, good things happen.
Starting PF: Larry Nance Sr.
As good as Kevin Love has been, he doesn’t qualify for the starting lineup. You need to put in a strong defensive player to make the group as strong as possible. And Larry Nance Sr. was effective as a scorer, even without the three-ball.
His ability to protect the rim and finish around it on the other side makes him hard to pass up. The Bron to Nance Sr. alley-oop connection would be a thing of beauty. And he’d be a great anchor for the D.
Starting C: Brad Daugherty
Though his career was cut short due to injury, Brad Daugherty was an absolute beast while playing in Cleveland. The #1 overall pick made it to five All-Star games, and had a terrific mid-range game. He was effective enough as a rim protector to suffice.
Even in the modern-day NBA, it’s nice to have a big man you can throw the ball to inside. Daugherty’s finishing ability is as good as any player to ever don a Cavs jersey.
Backup Guard: Ron Harper
Would it surprise you if I told you that Ron Harper averaged the fourth most points-per-game in Cavs history? He scored close to 20 points per game in his 228 appearances with the Wine and Gold, while also leading the defense.
Harper’s Cavalier career should have been much longer, but they oddly traded him for Danny Ferry in one of the most lopsided trades in the team’s history. Harper had a lot of talent and could have been a Cavs all-timer if he had stayed.
Backup Big: Kevin Love
You already knew Kevin Love would make it here. Admit it. And he absolutely deserves the spot. He’s been a timely shot maker during his six years in Cleveland. That is, when he’s been able to stay healthy.
Love made some huge plays en route to the 2016 title, including locking down Steph Curry on the most critical possession of the season. Kev has scored 35 points in a single quarter before. He’s hit winning shots. What more could you want?
Backup Guard: World B. Free
Finishing things out is World B. Free. While he was playing in Cleveland, he was an extremely effective scorer, averaging 23 points per game over his four years. He made one three per game in the 1984-85 season, which was considered to be very good at that time.
Free’s ability to finish from all over the floor makes him hard to leave off. He also had very quick hands and played the passing lanes efficiently. Free is the final player on the list.
How would you rank my All-time Cavs lineup against your own? Let’s hear it in the comments.