Cleveland Cavaliers: Isaac Okoro is coming along as a cutter

Cleveland Cavaliers wing Isaac Okoro shoots the ball on the interior. (Photo by Nathan Ray Seebeck-USA TODAY Sports)
Cleveland Cavaliers wing Isaac Okoro shoots the ball on the interior. (Photo by Nathan Ray Seebeck-USA TODAY Sports) /

It’s been a somewhat up and down rookie campaign for Cleveland Cavaliers wing Isaac Okoro on the offensive end. Albeit given the nature of this condensed season and with there only having been roughly one month between the past draft and the regular season, that was understandable.

Either way, though, coming into the year, it was apparent that Okoro offensively was going to be fairly raw. That’s the case to this point still, and he’s averaged just 8.5 points in 31.8 minutes per game in Year 1.

His three-point shooting hit rate, which was likely going to be a weakness anyway this year, has also only been 28.9 percent on 2.9 attempts per outing. We have seen some growth from there though as the season has progressed, and him hitting 36.5 percent of his corner triple attempts is at least something to build on in that realm.

But on more of a positive note for Okoro, he has shown when he’s decisive, that can be a very effective driver and as the year has worn on, he has done seemingly a better job of absorbing/taking on contact near the rim. That’s been good to see, and his finishing abilities with both hands have been on display more and more as of late.

And recently/as the season has gone on, Okoro’s off-ball cutting feel has seemed to jump out, too. We’ll focus on that here.

Okoro’s cutting feel is coming along, and has really been a key positive lately.

Okoro has been timing up his cuts and playing off of Darius Garland, who continues to shine, really well of late.

Collin Sexton and Okoro’s chemistry has come along as the year as progressed, too; Sexton (concussion) has been out in the past few games, though. Cedi Osman and Okoro have solid two-man chemistry, too.

Okoro has done a nice job on the weak side when his primary defenders have been ball watching at relocating from the opposite corner, for instance, and cutting along the baseline, leading to layups/dunks.

That was the intention here and Garland eventually found Okoro, who snuck that in for two of his season-high 20 points in Cleveland’s loss at the Toronto Raptors on Monday near the end of this clip.

Along with that, he’s been able to time up diagonal cuts to lead to swings to him from guards or Jarrett Allen, for example, as a productive outlet. Allen’s passing feel has been somewhat underrated, too, and Okoro’s been a beneficiary of that.

Additionally, Okoro’s transition/secondary transition cutting has seemingly gotten better regarding his timing/positioning in those scenarios in the off-ball sense as well. That’s something that we’ve seen throughout the season, but it’s popped in recent games, from my perspective.

Here, the youngster didn’t just head straight the lane initially, which may have caused a jammed up lane for Garland, whereas he drifted to the wing first and then made a decisive move on the break versus the Orlando Magic on Wednesday.

That resulted in an easy one for him in the open floor; it’s the subtle ways like that, though, that have been a key bright spot for Okoro of late, even while the perimeter shooting has been cold recently for him.

The off-ball growth for Okoro as the season has worn on has been a notable positive for him, and it’s evident that his chemistry with other guys, such as Garland, Sexton and Allen, has gradually gotten better.

And while the frequency hasn’t necessarily been really high at 9.6 percent, the 20-year-old having placed in the 74th percentile as a cutting scorer in Year 1, per Synergy Sports, is not something that I’m discounting.

That sort of off-ball should continue to aid him in the near future, and lead to more free throw opportunities and more sudden driving opportunities in both settled offense and in transition/secondary transition.

Okoro does of course need to work on rounding out his game offensively in the upcoming offseason, and adding some pull-up viability is something that could greatly help him, for one.

But the off-ball cutting growth, and him showcasing plenty of encouraging signs as a driver throughout this season, especially with how tough this season has been for rookies, have both been a nice start.

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And defensively, even with such a tough workload game-to-game, Okoro has done a very solid job, and the activity/versatility on that end has really been on display for the last month or so.