The Cleveland Cavaliers have had some incredible talents over their franchise’s history. Obviously, LeBron James is the greatest player in Cavaliers’ history and that will likely never change. But it was not only LeBron James that brought success to the city of Cleveland, as there were four other excellent players that would have composed an all-time great starting lineup right now.
In fact, these guys played together and won an NBA title with their combined efforts. If each player returned to their original teams, the Cavaliers would have an amazing “What-If” lineup.
Guard: Kyrie Irving
In 2017 traded to the Boston Celtics for Isaiah Thomas, Jae Crowder, Ante Zizic, Brooklyn’s 2018 unprotected first-round pick which becomes Collin Sexton, and a 2020 second-round pick
Kyrie Irving should have always been a Cavalier. It’s a shame that his career with them ended the way it did, with hard feelings, because he could have been the face of the franchise going forward. Kyrie was a star for the Cavaliers before LeBron James returned to help them win a ring, but seemed like he did not want to be in LeBron’s shadow anymore. Kyrie requested a trade and wanted to leave LeBron and the Cavs, and he was dealt to Boston in a blockbuster deal.
Kyrie with the Cavs won an NBA title, an NBA All-Star Game MVP, and made 4 All-Star Teams. His scoring and unbelievable handle make him one of the greatest Cavs players in NBA history and he starts at point guard.
Guard: Andrew Wiggins
In 2014 traded to the Timberwolves for Kevin Love in a 3 team deal involving the Timberwolves and 76ers
The Cavs were very fortunate to have the first overall pick in the NBA Draft which they used to draft young athletic prospect, Andrew Wiggins. Wiggins was expected to go first for every team so it was a strong pick by the Cavs. With LeBron James and Kyrie Irving on board, the Cavs felt it was necessary to bring a third All-Star to the team to win an NBA title immediately.
Wiggins was expected to be an All-Star one day, but the Cavs were in win-now mode with LeBron James happy to be back in Cleveland. Wiggins has had a solid career, although he probably would have been better if he was allowed to stay and learn alongside LeBron James in Cleveland.
Forward: LeBron James
Drafted by the Cavaliers in 2003; joined the Heat in free agency in 2009; returned to the Cavs until 2015; signed with Lakers in free agency in 2018
No surprise here, LeBron James is the greatest small forward in Cavaliers history and their best ever player. He single-handedly changed the Cavaliers franchise when he was drafted by them, and later won an NBA title for his hometown. James seems to have a mercenary mindset throughout his career, as he felt that Cleveland wasn’t getting him enough talent to win his first go-around. James left to go to Miami, where he won his first two NBA titles alongside Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh.
LeBron later returned to join Kyrie Irving and a newly acquired Kevin Love in Cleveland, coming back from a 3-1 Finals deficit to win an NBA title. LeBron left again to join the Los Angeles Lakers, but he will forever be associated with the Cleveland Cavaliers.
Forward: Jae Crowder
Drafted 34th overall by Cleveland Cavaliers and traded to Dallas Mavericks on the Draft night; In 2014, Crowder was traded to the Boston Celtics and later sent back to Cleveland as part of the blockbuster Kyrie Irving-Boston Celtics deal
Crowder had his best years with the Boston Celtics, averaging 14.2 PPG and 5.1 RPG in the 2015 NBA season. Crowder’s defense and hustle play made him a valuable member of the team, so it was shocking that Danny Ainge traded him and Isaiah Thomas to the Cleveland Cavaliers for Kyrie Irving (at the time).
Crowder was decent with Cleveland because he had great size and can defend both the perimeter and the post. Crowder averaged 8.6 PPG in his only season with Cleveland, but the team was in shambles after the Kyrie trade and he never felt part of a dedicated organization.
Center: Tristan Thompson
Drafted 4th overall in 2011 NBA Draft and has been a Cavalier his entire career
The Cavaliers made a big move by drafting Tristan Thompson with the 4th overall pick. Thompson won’t ever be an All-Star, but he brings everything to a team to help them win. He is a sensational rebounder, hustles after loose balls, and plays aggressive defense. His strength and size make him a very important player in the post, and he was absolutely critical in the Cavaliers NBA Finals victory in 2015.
LeBron James loved playing with Thompson and got him his big-money contract. Thompson and his career 8.7 RPG average starts at center.