When you think of the Cleveland Cavaliers, who do you think of immediately? There is only one player that has over 20,000 career points with the franchise. There is one player that owns the all-time record for points, rebounds, assists, and steals. Without that one player, the Cavaliers would remain without a championship.
There were some solid players in the history of the franchise. From Mark Price to Zydrunas Ilgauskas, Brad Daugherty, and Austin Carr, some players deserve their flowers. With that said, LeBron James carried this franchise for years and has plenty of reasons to sweep the franchise awards.
GOAT Of The Franchise: LeBron James
If you check the all-time records for the Cavaliers, you will see James’ name listed 33 times. That also includes holding 28 records from points, rebounds, assists, steals, field goals, and other stats to the advanced stats such as offensive, defensive, and overall win shares. James also owns the only Finals MVP Award in team history for his efforts in leading the franchise to a championship in 2016.
James won two MVPs while with the Cavaliers on top of the Finals MVP he earned. He led the Cavaliers to five appearances in the NBA Finals. While many like to point out his 1-4 record with the Cavaliers during that time, would Cleveland have ever been in the conversation without him? The factual answer is that those teams would not have been even close.
Rookie Of The Franchise: LeBron James
James won Rookie of the Year in 2004 after being drafted with the No. 1 overall pick in 2003. The voting was easy. James averaged 20.9 points, 5.5 rebounds, 5.9 assists, 1.6 steals, and 0.7 blocks per game. That included shooting 41.7% from the field. The Cavaliers went from winning 17 games the season before to winning 35 the following year and just missed making the playoffs.
Out of all the rookie seasons that the Cavaliers have seen, James remains the best. His overall stat line is something that some veterans wish to average just one time. Over the years, it was something he averaged consistently over time. It was truly a measuring stick for how great he would be later in his career.
Offensive Player Of The Franchise: LeBron James
The advanced metrics back it up, but you know the eye test was there too. One could make an argument for Mark Price, but he didn’t have the scoring. Brad Daughtery was a sharpshooter but not an all-around player. Zydrunas Ilgauskas would be the team scorer if James wasn’t there, but Lebron doubled his career total and some.
James finished his career with 107 win shares which are about 60 more wins than runner-up Price. James was used 31% all-time on offensive possession and still led the franchise with the highest player efficiency ranking. His 154 total win shares are almost 100 more than Price. We could talk about his points, field goals, and overall scoring, but the fact of the matter is that James can play all five positions, which is something many will forget to appreciate before he is gone.
Defensive Player Of The Franchise: LeBron James
The one record that James couldn’t get was blocks. Ilgauskas doubled his blocks total, but James did finish with the most steals (1,376) in franchise history. One of the best defensive plays of all time was when LeBron James blocked Andre Iguodala in Game 7 of the 2016 NBA Finals.
James also finished with 200 more rebounds than Ilgauskas, but Ilgauskas did have James beat on the offensive rebounding side by over 1,000.
With that said, James finished with 16 more defensive win shares of all time. On top of that, James can guard all five positions too. When the Cavaliers were ailing with Kevin Love during his second stint, it was James down in the post guarding the opposing big. There are not many players that can be that versatile and he proved that.
Coach Of The Franchise: Tyronn Lue
Lenny Wilkins owns the most wins for the Cavaliers coach all-time with 316. Mike Brown finished runner-up with 305, while Bill Fitch had 304. Ty Lue finished his coaching career with 128 wins with the Cavaliers in parts of four seasons. With that said, Lue did something that neither Wilkins, Brown, or Fitch could do and that got the Cavaliers to a championship.
How much influence did Lue have? Well, David Blatt was fired midseason and led the team to the Finals but had a torn relationship with James. Sometimes, with stars, you have to say the right things and push the right buttons. That’s coaching. Lue had the cast around him and knew what to say and do at the moment to get the Cavaliers to the top. Until someone else leads Cleveland to a championship, this is Lue’s spot to lose.
Fan Favorite: LeBron James
From 2003 to 2010, James was the most beloved man in Cleveland. He was pegged as the savior of the Cavaliers when he was drafted. That was a huge weight to put on a kid at the age of 18 years old. Instead of crumbling, James lived up to expectations and has frequently been mentioned in the conversation as the greatest player of all-time with Michael Jordan.
The rollercoaster of emotions that the fanbase went through with James also makes this a great story. In 2010, James left the Cavaliers because he grew tired of coming up short. He won a few titles with Miami and came back. He could have gone to the Lakers in 2014, which is well documented. Instead, he came back home to finish the job. He led the team to a title and gave Cleveland a sense of championship relevance for four straight years. Many like to hate James because of jealousy, but nobody can underestimate how much he’s loved in Ohio.