Cleveland Cavaliers: Floater improvement is key for Isaac Okoro

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

It was some of a mixed bag for Isaac Okoro in his rookie campaign for the Cleveland Cavaliers. Coming into the season, also with the lightning quick turnaround from the past draft to the season and him not having been able to get much work in others seemingly, it was apparent that Okoro needed work offensively.

On the year, he had his share of inconsistencies on the offensive end, which led to Okoro averaging 9.6 points in 32.4 minutes per outing. As many will point to, looking onward, he needs to work on his catch-and-shoots, as evidenced by a three-point shooting hit rate of only 29.0 percent in 2020-21.

There were flashes in that realm, though, and him showing less hesitation from April, in particular, on was nice to see.

In terms of the on-ball sense, Okoro needs work there, and his handle needs to get better to maximize his driving abilities. Granted, his close to the season, whether or not injuries played into it for others, Okoro having 16.2 points per outing in his last 12 games of Year 1, with increased aggression, was encouraging.

In a general sense though, did show that when he’s able to get going downhill, that he’s very capable as a driver, both with body control and as the season wore on, Okoro using his physicality in that realm and initiating contact more was a positive, too. On the season, Okoro had an above average free throw rate of 28.1 percent as well, which was another plus, and that was something to build on.

That said, for the 20-year-old to open himself more on-ball, while some pull-ups here and there are something to aid him, viability on floaters could be more realistic earlier on.

Okoro improving on floaters for the Cavs could be key for him.

On the season, Okoro did show flashes on driving bank floaters, and a bit more so in the closing stretch. On those, it wasn’t a bunch of looks, but he hit nine-of-18 of those (50.0 percent), per’s shooting data.

Albeit on driving standard floaters, not of the bank variety, he hit only nine-of-40 of those (22.5 percent), again per’s shooting data. There were instances when Okoro did demonstrate quality touch and timing to get those looks off in-rhythm and to take advantage of defenders trying to deter restricted area shots; that just wasn’t on a consistent basis.

If Isaac can improve his touch/ability to hit those looks shooting dead balls, of which was not the case nearly enough last season, that’d pay off for him and his driving capabilities.

Last season, he again did take those looks on more occasions to counter going all the way to the basket on-ball as the year wore on. Albeit displaying more viability on those, beginning next season, with him already having shown some change-of-pace, would be particularly impactful.

That’d lead to him being able to hit more spray-outs to shooters, such as Darius Garland and Collin Sexton, seemingly, if opposing bigs in pick-and-roll had to respect that more. Additionally, it’d likely lead to him being able to use hesitations more frequently, especially if the youngster can improve his handle this offseason.

Now, we’ll have to see again if Okoro can establish himself as a pull-up threat next season, and in the near future, that sort of thing plays into how much of a key offensive option he could potentially be for significant stretches game-to-game.

The ceiling could be high for him if that comes along, though, also with his solid defense/versatility on that end, and even more so if the playmaking feel keeps progressing.

Circling back, however, whether or not pull-ups develop to be viable, improvements on floaters is crucial for Okoro to fully maximize his driving abilities, and to keep showing growth as a pick-and-roll ball handler. If that comes along, the free throws would come in droves for him.

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And some continued work in the offseason with the likes of Garland and Sexton, who are both so polished with their floater game, could really help Okoro in that regard.