There’s things to build on, but Isaac Okoro’s O for Cavs must level up

Isaac Okoro, Cleveland Cavaliers. (Photo by Sarah Stier/Getty Images)
Isaac Okoro, Cleveland Cavaliers. (Photo by Sarah Stier/Getty Images) /
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Isaac Okoro, Cleveland Cavaliers. (Photo by Tayfun Coskun/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images) /

It’s been unrealistic to expect big things from Isaac Okoro on offense for the Cleveland Cavaliers through his two seasons with them thus far. Okoro was Cleveland’s #5 overall selection in the 2020 NBA Draft, and to this point, he’s generally been solid defensively, and in the open floor, he’s generally been at his best offensively.

There were going to be limitations on offense for him early on in his career with the Cavaliers, and as a defensive-oriented wing that played one collegiate season in Auburn, I’m not going to fault him for that.

Offensive production has been inconsistent from Okoro, who has had 9.6 and then 8.8 points per contest in his first two NBA seasons with Cleveland. In Year 2, he began coming off the bench as a crucial defensive supersub, and then after Collin Sexton was lost for the season, Okoro began starting at the 2 regularly; in Year 1, he was more so at the 3. His minutes-share per contest dipped a bit from 32.4 to 29.6, for reference.

Regardless of circumstances, I believe Okoro has generally been what one would’ve realistically anticipated through his two seasons with the Cavaliers. Defensively, he’s had some struggles, sure, but the defensive workload he’s had has had to be considered, and he’s one of Cleveland’s best perimeter defensive options, and I think he’s done pretty well, typically, on that end.

He’s maximized on defense, as is the case for others, when Evan Mobley and Jarrett Allen were both involved for the Cavaliers; even still, the 6-foot-5 wing has done generally a pretty solid on that end. Okoro is still really young, too, at just 21, and I do believe Lamar Stevens, and to some degree, Caris LeVert, giving him some relief will behoove the Cavs, either way.

On the other hand of the floor, though, as we’ve demonstrated, Okoro needs to be more impactful for Cleveland from here. He’s again, 21 years old, and played one year collegiately at Auburn, where he didn’t necessarily have a ton of opportunities in set offense.

That said, this next season, and during the offseason, it’s fair to say that Okoro needs to level up on offense in Year 3. Now-President of Basketball Ops mentioned in his end-of-season presser how the team needs to “unlock” Okoro next season, but that he essentially did have growth that shouldn’t be shortchanged, either, via Camryn Justice of WEWS.

There’s things to build on; Okoro just needs to take some of that a step further.

Patience has been understandable to this point with him, but Okoro needs to hit his stride offensively in Year 3 for the Cavs.

I understand that it’s two seasons into his career, and offense skill set was not the reasoning for Cleveland’s drafting of Okoro. Having said that, it’s tough to forecast Okoro developing into a 20-plus-point per game scorer in this league, whether that ends up being with the Cavs, or potentially a different team down the road. I like Ice, for the record, and I believe the Cavaliers need to give him ample time to see if he’s a long term fit, too.

This next season, though, if Okoro were to receive starting minutes-share once again, in his third season, in that scenario, it’s reasonable to think there needs to be an uptick in offensive production.