The Cavs 1986 NBA Draft remains a bastion of greatness for the franchise.
As the Cavs prepare to draft their newest rookie this week, we’re taking a break and looking back at the greatest draft in the history of the Cavaliers. While there might be a better-drafted player to have been drafted, it’s hard to say there’s ever been a draft like this. Not only did the Cavaliers get two franchise legends and three of the better players of the 80s and 90s, but they remade their team overnight. It would take a year for the pieces to gell, but by the time 1987 rolled around, this crew was ready to go off.
With the first overall pick, the Cavaliers picked Brad Daugherty. The 7’0 center from North Carolina. While his career was cut short due to back issues, the big-man gave the Cavaliers a career of 19 points, 9.5 rebounds, and 3.7 assists per game. He was one of the most complete players the league ever saw and should’ve had a ring or two if it wasn’t for Michael Jordan.
While this draft only had three Hall of Famers (and has two more who should be), it did have a slew of great roleplayers and starters like John Salley, Delly Curry, and Scott Skiles, it also had Ron Harper. Harper on the Cavs was a great two-way player but he really made his name playing as the point guard for Michael Jordan. He was taken 8th overall in the draft, and after four years was traded to the Clippers for Danny Ferry’s draft rights. A poor move by the franchise. Before joining Chicago, Harper averaged 19.7 points per game, before taking a reduced role with the Bulls. His ability to thrive on both sides of the court made him a true asset for any team.
Then, somehow, the Cavaliers nailed it again to start the second round, where they traded for Mark Price. Price, like Daugherty, was a multi-time NBA All-Star, All-NBA team player. In fact, both Price and Daugherty were voted by fans to be deserving of the Hall of Fame, with Price racking up over 90% of the vote and Daugherty with over 80%. Price didn’t just have the accolades and abilities but he was also a progenitor of the modern point guard. He was a two-way player who could shoot, score inside, pass but most notably, shoot threes. Had he played in today’s era, many believe he would’ve broken all the records that belong to Steph Curry.
The Cavaliers will never land three picks like that again in one NBA Draft
The Cavs have never come close to nailing three, truly legitimate All-Star caliber players at the same time before. The 2012 draft got the Cavaliers Kyrie Irving and Tristan Thompson, but that’s not saying much. Irving, no matter how hard people want to argue otherwise, was not better than Price, and Thompson could never prove he was worth being a starter for an entire year on a winning team.
The 2019 rookie class isn’t looking great. Darius Garland might be the next coming with Andre Miller and that’d be good enough, honestly, but Kevin Porter wasn’t technically drafted by the Cavaliers, and knowing him, will run afoul with someone eventually and end up in trouble. Then there’s Dylan Windler and as much as we’re pulling for him, he’s almost 25 and hasn’t even played a full half-season yet.
The ’86 class will go down in history as the Cavalier’s all-time great and no one can argue against it. It’s a landmark moment in the franchise history that somehow solidified a team perfectly, nailing all three levels of the roster in one fell swoop.
Price and Daugherty need to be in the NBA Hall of Fame, as it’s a dang shame they haven’t been put in yet. Harper has five titles, and while he won’t ever be inducted, the fact that he has five titles is enough proof of his legacy.