3 Cavs players trending up moving further into January

Isaac Okoro, Cleveland Cavaliers. Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images
Isaac Okoro, Cleveland Cavaliers. Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images /
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As we head into the 2023 calendar, the Cleveland Cavaliers are in nice shape. Cleveland is 25-14 on the season, and is sitting fourth in the Eastern Conference Standings.

The Cavaliers have to get healthier here, and they have to get kinks out on the road in what’s set to be a January schedule that’s more road-heavy.

This is still a team that’s one of the youngest in the league, too, and it’s crucial that the Cavaliers don’t have Darius Garland (thumb sprain) out for an extended stretch. It’s also understandable that the Cavs are a club that’s reportedly expected to seek a short-term wing option leading into the NBA’s trade deadline next month, to help bolster the 3 position and for a player that can alleviate some pressure on the core guys.

All things considered, though, there’s plenty to be optimistic about for the Wine and Gold, and the team set to have Ricky Rubio back seemingly soon can’t be discounted.

For the Cavaliers, however, as we get into the 2023 portion of the schedule, it’s been encouraging to see a few Cavs recently pick up their play, and it’s been a positive for Cleveland’s depth.

3 Cavs have been trending up of late as we head further into January, and we’ll discuss their play here.

One of those players, in no particular order, is Isaac Okoro.

No. 1: Isaac Okoro

Okoro’s primary role is going to be as one of Cleveland’s crucial defensive players, usually in minutes off the bench or at times as a starter.

He’s not a player that one should expect to regularly be putting up gaudy offensive numbers, and despite extensive work coming into the offseason, and still seemingly outside of games, the three-point shooting uptick hasn’t been there. This season, he’s hit only 26.0 percent of his three-point attempts, and his scoring has dipped to 5.1 points per contest, albeit in a role with significantly less minutes at 18.9 per outing.

That being said, his perimeter defense has been his calling card, and while there are still some difficult stretches for him, and I do lean Lamar Stevens in some matchups, and it seems the Cavaliers do somewhat versus bigger wings, Okoro is usually impactful on that end.

His screen nagivation has generally been on-point in recent weeks, which has often forced tough shots, and his efforts with his boxouts and at times offensive tip-outs shouldn’t go unnoticed. He’s never been averse to floor burns, either, and those sort of energy plays have helped the Cavaliers in recent comeback efforts.

Also, though his offense does still have a ways to go, in the past few weeks, he has found ways to make meaningful secondary passes, has shown he can attack closeouts to make plays from time to time, and his off-ball movement has steadily improved this season. In Okoro’s last eight games (four of which have seemingly been spot starts), he’s had 8.5 points per contest, and has connected on 53.5 percent of his shots in 20.9 minutes per appearance.

If Okoro can find subtle ways to affect games on offense from here, and at least stick corner threes, it will make a difference. But we’ll have to see more of a sample size.