What makes Price so right for the Cavs is his jump shot, which he learned as a kid hanging around his dad, Denny, then an assistant coach with the Suns. Price's range—he was second in the league last season behind Craig Hodges, now with Chicago, in three-point field goal percentage with .486—stretches defenses to pierceable extremes. Despite launching shots from long distance, his 54.1% shooting puts him among the league leaders, who tend to be front-courtmen. His three-point average of 36.5%, however, is down from '87-88.
Price's shooting ability has made him a target for his team to shoot at as well. When Phil Hubbard returned to the locker room recently after a pregame shootaround, he told Williams, "I shot threes with Mark." Hubbard paused. "It was 10 apiece, and then I missed." Hubbard shook his head. Another would-be Price-buster, busted.
But then, like Price, many of the Cavs have doubters to silence. For starters, Daugherty was supposedly too soft to build a team around when Cleveland made him the No. 1 pick out of North Carolina. But one look at his family, where he had to do battle with two older brothers—one now 7-foot, 290, the other 6'7", 240—would have told you he could survive under duress. He has become a physical force more prone to fouling than to backing off, and he has always been a team player. "We could easily designate our offense so that one of us could score 25 or 30 every night," Daugherty says. "But with a young team and all the energy we have, that would be kind of foolish. This way, we all become better players. Everyone has the opportunity to be the man, and it's up to each of us to take it."
Harper came from Miami of Ohio, which is not exactly a hoops hotbed. After a brilliant rookie year, he was slowed at the start of last season by a sprained left ankle, then had to adjust as defenders learned to play off him in anticipation of his Michael Jordan-like assaults through the lane. "Now I'm going to take anything they give me," he says. "I'll take the jumper or go to the basket, with authority." Nance, meanwhile, had a reputation for finesse, which made some wonder whether he would be able to handle the rough-and-tumble Eastern Conference forwards. But with a dominating center to back him up for the first time, he has held his own. "I have more freedom," says Nance, 29, one of the older players on the team.
As for the 51-year-old Wilkens, he allegedly couldn't work well with young talent; in '85 he lost his coaching job with the Sonics for that reason after leading them to the championship six years before. He has loads of young players now, and he has sold them on sharing the points and helping out in his relentlessly rotating defense. Perhaps suspicion and doubt from their detractors have motivated the Cavs to achieve. Says Price, "We haven't had a lot of people singing our praises over the years." For those laggards who haven't started yet, the Cavs' hymn singer can help them find the key.