By Brian Taylor
The 1997 NBA Draft was one of those rare drafts (these days) in which there’s a clear-cut, numero uno type of guy that every team is after. In that particular draft, the grand prize was Wake Forest’s Tim Duncan, a guy who at 6’11” could hold down the forward-center position efficiently, night in and night out. Tim is today’s model of consistency in the paint, but as usual, Duncan rang a bell and reminded folks of another ACC monster in the paint, one Brad Daugherty.
In the late 80’s/ early 90’s the Cleveland Cavaliers weren’t exactly the media darlings they are now. If anything, they were a really good team the often got overlooked by other guys in their division. You had Jordan, the Bad Boys and even the Human Highlight Film all in the same division. Cleveland was really known for two guys, the choir-boy/ super-point guard Mark Price, and the original “Big Fundamental” Brad Daugherty.
Coming out in 1986, Brad was the first overall pick, a position in the draft that can either make (Shaq/LeBron/Yao/Duncan) or break (Kwame Brown/Olowokandi/Joe Barry Carrol aka “Joe Barely Cares). In a draft class that included Len Bias and the aforementioned Price, the Cavs cleaned up, gaining two All-Stars.
Daugherty made his presence felt immediately albeit in a quiet, consistent, Duncan-esque way. Brad wasn’t an in-your-face, all elbows kind of center, but more of a quiet hard-hat type (this guy should work with Brendan Haywood).
The All-Star squad saw Brad Daugherty five times in his career, with Brad even getting a trip to the conference finals (people forget that the Cavaliers have been that far before, because they only remember Jordan ripping their hearts out Reggie Miller-Knicks style everytime in the playoffs).
Whenever you see Duncan play, you’re basically seeing Brad Daugherty reincarnated. The post up moves, the spins, even the jumper off glass, those were trademarks of Brad’s game. Mark Price (and Jordan’s crash test dummy, Craig Ehlo) had the green light to hoist threes at will, because they knew Daugherty could clean up the mess. He was also always a really good character guy, and did tons of work for Cleveland’s community.
The reason why you might not have really heard much about Brad is because he’s another member of the “what-if-he-never-got-hurt” club. In 1989, he suffered some injuries that kept steamrolling until Brad had to call it quits in 1994.
With career numbers of 20 points and 10 boards per game, you can see why the guy is one of the most revered in Cavalier history…I’m not counting LeBron yet, maybe after this season, but for now, I’ll give it to Brad.
The You Tube clip here shows Brad Gone Wild in the 1993 playoffs against Boston (and the late Reggie Lewis). So if you want to check out Brad, and thumb your nose at David Sternolini take a look!