After watching Diop stumble up and down the floor last night, it reminded me of one my favorite Cavs players. Alright, let’s jump into Blake Griffin‘s Kia Optima time machine and go back to 2002. I couldn’t find a video of the 2002 draft, so work with me here and visualize David Stern at the podium.
With the 6th pick in the 2002 NBA Draft, the Cleveland Cavaliers select Dajuan Wagner, guard, Memphis.
I actually remember celebrating this pick. Wagner was supposed to be the next Iverson and turn the Cavaliers franchise around. Diop was going to be the next Shaq and Dajuan was going to be his Kobe Bryant. I couldn’t wait to hear Michael Reghi create some crazy nickname for Wagner and go crazy as he drained buckets. I can hear it now, “Oh! ‘Dajuana Guard Me’ slices up Doug Christie and sinks the Kings with that shot!” I mean we had Darius Miles, Ricky Davis, Smush Parker, Zydrunas Ilgauskas, Bimbo Coles, Chris Mihm and Carlos Boozer. We were clearly one piece away. Those were my actual thoughts as a kid. Shame on me.
The legend goes that he once scored 100 points in a single game while a member of Camden High School in New Jersey. He averaged over 40 points a game in high school as a senior and was expected to dominate the NBA competition. After playing just one season at Memphis, Wagner declared himself eligible for the NBA.
Wagner struggled in his rookie season where he only saw 47 games worth of action and averaged 13.4 ppg. I remember watching him lead the pitiful 2002-2003 Cavs to a victory over Iverson’s 76ers at the Gund Arena. Looking back, that was probably the highlight of Dajuan’s career. Hampered with injuries, he rarely saw the floor or even an active roster. After the 2004-2005 season, Wagner was diagnosed with ulcerative colitis which just sounds awful. I tried Googling it, but I immediately regretted it.
Wagner’s career amounted to 103 games where he averaged 9.4 ppg with a FG% of 36.6%. Despite his lack of production. I was right about him turning around the Cavs. Without a go-to scorer, the Cavs would go on to tank, errr, I mean earn the worst record in the league for the 2002-2003 season and draft some dude from St. Vincent-St. Mary’s High School in Cleveland.
Here’s to you Dajuan Wagner. I hope you can play basketball without a diaper one day.
By the way, here is my All Late 90’s-Pre-Lebron 00’s Team: