Has there ever been a franchise that made the drop so quickly from high-flying NBA Championship contender to potential lottery team? That might be exaggerating a little bit because the Cavs could still contend for one of the final spots in the playoffs next season. They still have Mo Williams, Antawn Jamison and the young blossoming power forward, J.J. Hickson. The sudden departure of Lebron James left empty spots in the hearts and souls of Cleveland Cavaliers fans. Lebron carried the Cavs to the playoffs for five straight seasons after they failed to make it in all of the first five seasons of the 2000’s. The Cavs managed to win one Eastern Conference Championship, but was manhandled by the San Antonio Spurs in the 2007 NBA Championship in four straight games. Here’s to hoping that the Cavs can muster up some of the success in the next decade that they did in the 2000’s. Here are the best five Cleveland Cavaliers from 2001-2010. (Only accomplishments and stats while playing for the Cleveland Cavaliers from 2000-2009 were considered.)
1. Lebron James
Sorry Lebron, but ESPN would not let me schedule an hour block so that I can explain how great you were for the Cleveland Cavs in the 2000’s. Where do I start with all the amazing things that Lebron did while with the Cavs in the 2000’s? How about we start with his rookie season. All Lebron did in his rookie season was become the third ever player in NBA history to average 20 points, 5 rebounds and 5 assists per game. There’s nothing like joining NBA greats Michael Jordan and Oscar Robertson in the record books after only one season. Pretty much everything Lebron has accomplished in his seven season with the Cavs, has only been done by the likes of Jordan and more often Oscar Robertson. Joining the NBA straight out of high school gives him an added edge in all of the youngest to achieve records in NBA history and Lebron has taken full advantage. Those records include youngest to record a triple double, score 40 points in a game and to score 15,000 career points. As for franchise records, Lebron pretty much owns all of the Cavs single game and single season scoring records.
2. Zydrunas Ilgauskas
Z is one of the all-time fan favorites for the Cleveland Cavs and I think some fans are even more sad to see him go than Lebron. It obviously is not because he would’ve made a bigger difference in the standings, but just because he was that well thought of by Cleveland. Z was never considered to be among the elite centers in the league, but he was productive every season he was on the floor. He isn’t the typical bruiser, but instead has one of the smoothest strokes from fifteen to eighteen feet in the entire NBA. He was named the to the Eastern Conference All-Star team in 2003 and 2005. Ilgauskas currently holds the franchise record for games played.
3. Mo Williams
Isn’t it wonderful to think that the Cavs got this guy for the aged NBA bodies once known as Joe Smith and Damon Jones? If the “Silent Assassin,” as he has become to be called by Cavs fans, steps up and becomes the new leader of this team, then that could go down as one of the biggest steals in NBA history. That’s if you don’t already see it that way now. Williams spent two seasons being James’ sidekick in Cleveland and supplied the Cavs with a gritty player who can, at times, take the ball game over. In 2009, he made the Eastern Conference All-Star team, while putting up over 19 points a game.
4. Drew Gooden
On July 23rd, 2004, the Cavs traded for Gooden, making them his third team in four seasons. Gooden never was selected to an All-Star team, but was still an important part of the Cavaliers success. He was good for 11 plus points and over eight rebounds a game.
5. Larry Hughes
It’s official; Hughes’ two and a half seasons with the Cavs were a disappointment. He was a bust, but only because everybody expected him to be Lebron’s Robin. Hughes, although not spectacular by any means, still was able to score over 15 points a game in his first season and then over 14 points a game in his second season with Cleveland. We will just forget about the half season. In fact, let’s just be completely honest Hughes is only here because there wasn’t any other Cavs from the 2000’s that deserved this spot either.