Cavs: PnR strides could be key for Isaac Okoro looking onward

Cleveland Cavaliers wing Isaac Okoro drives. (Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images)
Cleveland Cavaliers wing Isaac Okoro drives. (Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images) /

Isaac Okoro‘s offense in his rookie campaign for the Cleveland Cavaliers hasn’t been eye-popping; the youngster has had 9.1 points per outing in a workload of 32.1 minutes. He’s hit 30.2 percent of his 2.9 three-point attempts per contest, which has been far from ideal.

As many would attest to, Okoro needs to take further strides to become a viable catch-and-shoot three-point shooter via spot-ups, for one.

He has shown flashes in that area, but he still has a ways to go in that realm. For him in his first season in the NBA though, and with the near-lack of offseason coming into it, I’m not going to grill him for that.

Albeit Okoro does need to tighten up his handle, too, and there’s not been much of a pull-up game at all shown from him. Those two areas are also apparent as areas for improvement for Okoro heading into the upcoming offseason, and then into Year 2/coming years.

But on a positive note, Okoro has shown he can be a capable driving presence, and when he gets going downhill, can use his strength to get into the lane, leading to finishes near the rim. Him having had a free throw rate of 29.3 percent has been a pretty healthy clip, too, in relation to that sort of thing.

For Okoro in coming years, though, showing more pick-and-roll ball handling viability could be a point of emphasis for him to expand his offensive game.

PnR strides could be key for Okoro looking onward for the Cavs.

We have seen some encouraging signs from Okoro regarding pick-and-roll ball handling, which has been a plus. When he’s able to use his 225-pound frame to get downhill with sudden quickness, whether or not switchouts occur for him in those instances, it’s led to free throws and soome and-1s, even.

We saw him get to the line nine times in Okoro’s season/career-best 32-point performance on Tuesday against the Phoenix Suns, and his work as a driver was the reasoning there, clearly.

In a general sense in this Phoenix outing though, he was again taking advantage in PnR chances throughout that one, and I think at times we’ve seen that from him as well. That’s more so in the past month or so, realistically.

And while the playmaking splits don’t illuminate it, Okoro has shown some nice signs as a pick-and-roll passer. While that wasn’t shown a ton in his lone collegiate season at Auburn, he did prove to be a capable passer to perimeter shooters in those situations, and did show he’s able to hit both corners, of which we’ve seen some of this season, too.

Albeit with Okoro, the handle does again need to be tightened up this upcoming offseason for us to see more opportunities for him as a PnR secondary playmaker. We’ll see in relation to that at least.

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Lastly, however, a key for him when PnR opportunities do arise here and there will be for him to become somewhat of a pull-up threat, at minimum.

Him lacking in that way and being next to no threat in the mid-range, for example, is something that needs to work on this offseason. That’s involving just on-ball opportunities for him in general, really, though; it’s likely a key reason why Okoro has only placed in the 29th percentile this season in PnR scoring, per Synergy Sports.

We’ve again seen flashes of him showing viability on-ball in those situations, but the lack of pull-up game/mid-range is a point of emphasis for him to add moving forward.

He’s made strides with his feel as a driver otherwise, but if Okoro can further progress to be another viable PnR option, both in the scoring and playmaking sense, that could unlock more of his game.

In any case, coming into the year, on-ball Okoro was set to look pretty raw, and he is still. There have been more flashes offensively of late from him, though, and his off-ball/cutting feel has been coming along, which is a plus, as a side note.

But for him in coming years, being able to take advantage more in PnR situations with some more jumpers and/or push shots, perhaps, would go a long way for his driving.

And if he can do that, and I think he’s capable in the near future with the tireless worker Okoro is, that’d only make the likes of Darius Garland and Collin Sexton more dangerous. We’ll have to see, looking onward on that.

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That sort of growth from Isaac potentially, to go with his versatile defense, would lead to much more consistency game-to-game on the offensive end, though.