Though the Cleveland Cavaliers are one of the NBA’s younger franchises, there have been several talented shooting guards to wear the Wine and Gold. In this piece, we’ll take a look back at who we believe to be the five best.

5. J.R. Smith

Critics often point out Smith’s lapse of judgment in Game 1 of the 2018 NBA Finals, when he seemed to forget the score. However, were it not for his offensive production in Game 6 of the 2016 Finals, the Cavs might still be waiting for their first championship.

A microwave on the court, Smith could get hot at the drop of a hat. He was also a savvy defender and had the ability to rock the rim with the best of them. For Cavs fans around the globe, his cheeky grin and shirtless antics still bring back fond memories.

4. Bingo Smith

Bobby “Bingo” Smith came to the Cavs as part of the 1970 NBA Expansion Draft, which made him one of the team’s original members. It wasn’t long before his offensive prowess shined through. In just his first game, he dropped 21 points. The Memphis native would go on to help Cleveland claim their first Central Division title in 1975.

Most Cavs will remember Bingo as a member of the famous “Miracle of Richfield” team — a squad that defeated the Washington Bullets in the first round of the ’76 playoffs. It was the first playoff series in team history, and it was highlighted by a series of last-second shots from Cleveland. Smith racked up a team-leading 17 points in Game 2 and made the game-winning shot with just seconds remaining, giving Cleveland a 80-79 victory.

The Cavs would eventually fall to the Boston Celtics in the Conference Finals, but Bingo and his teammates had given fans in Northeast Ohio something to believe in.

To this day, Bingo ranks near the top in several all-time categories for the Cavs, including games played (4th, 720), field goals made (3rd, 4,182) and points scored (6th, 9,513).

3. Ron Harper

Prior to his days of playing for the Bulls alongside Michael Jordan, Ron Harper wore a Cavaliers uniform. In fact, Cleveland selected the Ohio native with the 8th overall pick in the 1986 NBA Draft.

A solid defender and great scorer, Harper’s impact was immediate. He racked up 34 points in just his sixth game with the Cavs. Furthermore, he started in all 82 games that season, averaging 22.9 points, 4.8 rebounds, 4.8 assists and 2.5 steals. And as recognition for his fine play, he finished second in the NBA’s Rookie of the Year voting.

Over the course of his first three seasons with Cleveland, Harper averaged just over 19 points, five assists and four rebounds per game. He and the Cavs won a then franchise-high 57 games during the ’88-’89 season before losing to the Bulls in five games in the first round of the playoffs. Avid Cavs fans know the moment well, as it was the series in which Jordan hit “The Shot” over Craig Ehlo.

Ultimately, the Cavs traded Harper to the Los Angeles Clippers in November of 1989 for the rights to former Duke forward Danny Ferry.

Notably, Jordan later credited Harper as one of the few players who could guard him at a decent clip:

“Cleveland, to this day, would have had better success if they would have kept Ron Harper, because he was one of the guys who gave me the most problems in the Eastern Conference,” Jordan said of Harper, via waitingfornextyear.com.

2. World B. Free

For our next entry of great Cavaliers shooting guards, we’ll go back to 1982, when the Cavs acquired World B. Free. Though his best playing days came with the Sixers earlier in his career (32.0 points per game in the 1979-80 campaign), Free brought new life to Cleveland’s young franchise. In fact, many argue that he “saved basketball” in Northeast Ohio, as the Cavs were struggling to stay afloat. With Free, the team started to draw outside interest in a post-Ted Stepien era.

“I remember when I got to the Cleveland airport right after the trade,” Free said in 1986, via grayco.com. “The people looked tired. I said I was going to pump some life into this place. ‘What Cleveland needed was World B. shakin’, bakin’, stoppin’ and poppin’. That’s what I was thinking.”

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Free would go on to lead Cleveland in scoring at nearly 24 points per game in the 1982-83 campaign, but the team could only muster a 23-59 record. Still, he is widely-revered as one of the greatest players to ever wear Wine and Gold.

1. Austin Carr

There can really be no other candidate for the No. 1 shooting guard in Cavs history. “Mr. Cavalier,” as Carr has come to be known, is one of Cleveland’s great legends.

In just their second season of existence, the Cavs selected Carr with the No. 1 overall pick in the 1971 NBA Draft. To many, the Notre Dame product was one of the best prospects in his class. Notably, he was also selected in the 1971 ABA Draft by the Virginia Squires, though he ultimately signed with the Cavaliers.

Carr struggled with injuries in his first season, including a broken foot. After recovering, however, he proved his worth as the top pick. He would go on to lead the Cavs to three straight playoff appearances, including the aforementioned “Miracle of Richfield” series in 1976.

Carr is a Cavalier through and through. In fact, he is still with the team to this day, serving as a play-by-play man for their television broadcasts.

Austin Carr with Cavs via nba.com