The Cavaliers’ 3-1 comeback against the Warriors in the 2016 Finals is still heralded as one of the greatest moments in recent NBA history. Led by stars LeBron James and Kyrie Irving along with key starters Kevin Love and JR Smith, Cleveland pulled off a stunning upset against a 73-9 Golden State. Here are a few names that deserve more praise than they got for Cleveland’s championship run.
3. Richard Jefferson
While Jefferson was supposed to be a veteran presence off the bench, he provided a much-needed spark for Cleveland. Shooting 38% from deep during the regular season and 39% during the playoffs, Jefferson’s ability as a marksman and defense was critical to Cleveland’s bench. A fan favorite, Jefferson’s glowing personality off the court made him one of the many great characters on this Cavs squad. RJ’s minutes in key playoff games helped Cleveland towards a title.
2. Iman Shumpert
Shumpert came with Smith in a trade as two castoffs from the Knicks. While the two were seen as detrimental to New York, they both provided quality production in The Land. Shumpert’s 38% from deep in the playoffs along with his lockdown defense that was a trademark to his game is what helped Cleveland’s bench the most. Taking on the responsibility of guarding an opposing team’s best players like a Stephen Curry is what made Shump great.
1. Tristan Thompson
Thompson did not start every game he played in for Cleveland, but that changed come playoff time. Thompson anchored the center spot alongside James, Irving, Love and Smith, and provided the size needed to compete throughout the playoffs. Averaging close to seven points and nine rebounds on 52% shooting was everything Cleveland needed from a big man. Thompson’s size and rebounding ability should get him more credit in the context of the championship run.