Cavs: Off-ball offense is selling point for Onyeka Okongwu in 2020 NBA Draft

USC big man Onyeka Okongwu (#21) celebrates a near-win. (Photo by Jayne Kamin-Oncea/Getty Images)
USC big man Onyeka Okongwu (#21) celebrates a near-win. (Photo by Jayne Kamin-Oncea/Getty Images) /
1 of 3
Onyeka Okongwu, Cleveland Cavaliers
USC big Onyeka Okongwu looks on. (Photo by Jayne Kamin-Oncea/Getty Images) /

Onyeka Okongwu could end up being a key core piece for the Cleveland Cavaliers.

The Cleveland Cavaliers could go in a number of different directions in the 2020 NBA Draft, of which they are slated to have the #5 selection.’s Chris Fedor recently reported seemingly that he expects Cleveland to use that #5 pick as “bait” for a potential trade, but that to me, sounds like just a smoke screen. I’d firmly expect the Cavaliers to end up making that selection.

In terms of a potential selection at that spot, wings such as Auburn’s Isaac Okoro, Florida State’s Devin Vassell and Deni Avdija of the I-BSL’s Maccabi FOX Tel Aviv come to mind right away. Perhaps Cleveland could strongly consider point guard prospects such as Iowa State’s Tyrese Haliburton or Killian Hayes of the BBL’s Ratiopharm Ulm.

The key here for the Cavaliers, from my perspective, is them steering clear of Dayton big Obi Toppin, a prospect that’s been rumored to be a long-term replacement for Kevin Love down the road. Toppin’s scoring capability at least on the interior should translate, but the major defensive concerns with him would make that a selection I believe the Cavs would have a world of trouble justifying.

If the Cavaliers did end up going with a big, USC’s Onyeka Okongwu would be a far better choice for the Wine and Gold.

Okongwu is a highly switchable big on the defensive end on-ball if needed at times, and he is an incredibly active team defender with great instincts. His 2.7 blocks and 1.2 steals per contest in his lone collegiate season showcased that feel, but he is a player that should make his presence felt on the offensive end as well.

Okongwu, who had 16.2 points per outing in 2019-20, is a polished post-up player, and while he doesn’t qualify as a floor spacer, he did flash face-up ability/mid-range shooting, and him hitting 72.0 percent from the foul line was a positive.

Okongwu, even while the statistics didn’t show it, has drawn comparisons to the Miami Heat’s Bam Adebayo for his passing capability/anticipation, and that’s a selling point for him, too. And that comparison is factoring in Okongwu’s terrific athleticism, quickness for a big and defensive abilities as well, as KJG’s Tyler Meitin detailed.

In addition, while I absolutely wouldn’t fault the Cavs if they went with a wing in the upcoming draft, another selling point for Okongwu relates to off-ball offense.

We’ll highlight that here in regards to how Okongwu could affect games off-ball offensively for the Cleveland Cavaliers.

The first way has to do with how he could help shooters.