Does Isaac Okoro have a future on this Cavs team?

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

Two seasons ago, the Cleveland Cavaliers spent their fifth overall pick on Isaac Okoro. Drafted out of Auburn, Okoro’s athleticism, defensive pedigree, and overall strength are what popped out in the game film. His biggest question marks being his jumpshot and ability to create for himself.

His rookie season showed a ton of flashes and he shined brightest in a career-high 32-point game against the Phoenix Suns.

With the drafting of Evan Mobley and little to no progression to his jump shot, Okoro saw his role diminish which had an effect on his progression. Teams often gapped the young wing, which caused hitches in the offense and forced J.B. Bickerstaff to sit him for long periods of time.

In the biggest game of his career, Okoro logged just 22 minutes and had a -14 plus-minus.

It wasn’t all bad for Okoro however. Multiple 20-point games, turning into a corner specialist, the team’s best perimeter defender. Okoro made it work when he had to.

Considering recent moves and where Okoro is as a player, things get tricky in terms of role and progression. The Cavs acquired Caris LeVert near this past year’s trade deadline and used their 14th overall pick on Ochai Agbaji. Minutes get tighter when you factor in the likely return of Collin Sexton, to go with Ricky Rubio returning, as well as Lamar Stevens potentially warranting steady minutes as well.

People like to touch on his stout defense as a reason to warrant minutes but we’ve seen how a limited offensive game has impacted Matisse Thybulle’s role on the Philadelphia 76ers, and he’s an all-defensive player.

For Okoro to warrant minutes, he must have considerable progressions on the offensive end. It isn’t just shooting for him, it has to be shot creation, slight playmaking leaps, and improvements getting to the rim.

And the team has emphasized for him to work on shot creation and rim finishing/rim shot generation improvements during this offseason, per a report from’s Chris Fedor (subscription required). On the plus side, Fedor’s report did state via a source that he’s shown “great signs of development.”

But, objectively, those things have never really been in his game. He was a limited scorer in high school, at Auburn, and we are seeing those same issues now in the NBA.

So, what does the future hold for Okoro on the Cavs? Is there even a future?

Okoro is entering his contract extension season. At the end of next year, he will be eligible for an extension but with cap getting tight on the team, I envision he doesn’t get one at all. There seems to be no plan for Okoro.

Now, there could be marketed growth from Okoro on offense this upcoming season, but it’s difficult to project if that will play out. He’s got to be more impactful on offense.

With next year’s free agency being a big one, too, and thinking what Agbaji is expected to do, I can see Okoro being used as a trade piece, getting moved to a tanking team where he can receive a ton of minutes for a veteran that can help the Cavs win now.

Or, Okoro can take a leap as a shooter, becoming respectable in this area and would then warrant a steady role, so much so that the argument could be made for him starting.

Either way, this is shaping up to be a make-or-break year for Isaac Okoro, clearly.

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Okoro’s going to have to make the most of his opportunities and leave a positive offensive impact in more ways than one.