The Cleveland Cavaliers may have won a title in 2016, but fans with long memories will remember when they were a perennial lottery team. LeBron James departure for Miami left Cleveland decimated as they tried to rebuild. In charge of that rebuild was Chris Grant and he ended up making arguably the worst draft pick in NBA history.
Grant and the Cavs took Anthony Bennett with the No. 1 overall pick in 2013 and he was an immediate bust. He's already out of the NBA while Grant was eventually removed as Cavs GM in place of David Griffin.
Jason Lloyd of The Athletic posted an excerpt of his upcoming book The Blueprint: LeBron James, Cleveland's Deliverance and the Making of the Modern NBA. In his excerpt it's revealed that, in a front office vote, Grant was the only person who opposed drafting Bennett. Turns out he was right. Bennett didn't have the work ethic Cleveland needed.
He wouldn't listen to any debate about (Kyrie) Irving or Williams. He made up his mind early on he was taking Irving. This time, however, there was no other clear-cut contender. Grant was high on (Ben) McLemore, but everyone knew he wasn't in Irving's league in terms of talent and ability. So when the Cavs front office sat down before the draft to cast their vote on who to take, the final tally was 9-1 in favor of Bennett. The one vote against taking him? Chris Grant.
"The issue with Anthony was, and we had no way of knowing it at the time, the kid had no desire to overcome adversity whatsoever. As soon as it was hard, he was out," (David) Griffin said. "His whole life, he rolled out of a bed bigger, better, and more talented than everybody else. As soon as it was hard, it was over. And I was the one on campus at UNLV. I'm the one who got sold the bill of goods and I bought it hook, line, and sinker. You f*** up sometimes. But I feel bad Chris took it for that, because Chris was the one guy who wasn't sure."
The top of the 2013 draft has gone down as one of the weaker in NBA history, but even at the time, Bennett was seen as a strange pick to take at No. 1 overall. As the GM, Grant had final say, which means he took the blame for Bennett's failures. But in retrospect, he looks like the smartest person in the room.
Of course, that pick wasn't the only reason Grant was eventually fired. Cleveland had struggled to move forward since LeBron's departure and the organization had made strange moves such as hiring Mike Brown again. However, the Bennett pick is frequently cited as the one that eventually did him in. Consider if Cleveland had gone with someone like Victor Oladipo or Nerlens Noel. Would that have been enough to save his job?