The Bleacher Report
team asked me to weigh in on the unfounded recent rumors that Kyrie Irving emphatically denied suggesting he is unhappy in Cleveland.
I did so yesterday by highlighting the extreme differences between the LeBron James' rebuild from 2003-09 and the current process underway since Irving was selected first in 2011.
Below is an excerpt
of that with respect to the players drafted by Cleveland during that stretch.
During the LeBron James era, the Cleveland Cavaliers operated with a sense of urgency driven by a torturous fear of losing their young superstar.
They didn't believe they had the time necessary to invest properly in the draft and failed to secure young talent to complement James as a result.
From 2003-09, the list of first-round picks the Cavaliers acquired to pair with James included Luke Jackson, Shannon Brown, J.J. Hickson and Christian Eyenga.
Jackson, taken 10th overall in 2004 by then-general manager Jim Paxson, represents the highest player taken during James' tenure in Cleveland.
As the chart above highlights, Jackson, Brown and Eyenga combined to play 84 games as James' teammate. Only second-round pick Daniel Gibson went on to become a core player, and this lack of promising, young talent helped lead to James' departure in 2010.
Expanding on the chart I referenced above, below are some additional numbers that jumped out at me earlier this week as I was putting it together.
All of the four first-round picks selected during the James era in Cleveland combined to play 227 games for the Cavs before he left in 2010.
That's 227 games as a Cavalier from 2003-09 for Luke Jackson, Shannon Brown, J.J. Hickson and Christian Eyenga combined.
Those four players also combined to score 1,237 points during that same period.
Now, I understand the Cavaliers were competing for an NBA championship during those years. I also clearly realize they were not over the last two seasons. Regardless, though, here is how the similar totals compare since 2011.
The group of Tristan Thompson, Dion Waiters and Tyler Zeller have already appeared in 280 career games since the Cavaliers selected Irving first overall.
That is 53 games more than all of the first-rounders selected by Cleveland after James from 2003-09.
This same group has also combined to score 2,955 points so far.
That number is currently only 289 points less than the combined total of 3,244 scored by Cavs draft picks Jason Kapono, Daniel Gibson, Ejike Uboaja and Danny Green–along with the first round selections–during the entire time James played in Cleveland.
Anthony Bennett and Sergey Karasev haven't played a game yet, either.