How much does Cavs’ Isaac Okoro deserve on an extension?

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

Many players from the 2020 NBA Draft have already gotten extensions signed, such as Minnesota’s Anthony Edwards, Charlotte’s LaMelo Ball, and Indiana’s Tyrese Haliburton, to name a few. The 2020 NBA Draft class was solid, as the players previously mentioned have all been All-Stars. Despite that, the whole draft class was not amazing.

The top five of the 2020 NBA Draft was pretty underwhelming, outside of Anthony Edwards and LaMelo Ball. The second overall pick was James Wiseman, a big man who has shown glimpses of greatness, but for the most part, has been disappointing. He is an NBA Champion, though. The fourth pick, Patrick Williams, has looked fine, but like Wiseman, still has a long way to go to becoming a great player.

And then there’s the fifth overall pick, Isaac Okoro. Okoro’s defense has always been his main selling point, but his offense has been underwhelming, to say the least.

For Okoro’s career, he’s averaged 8.2 points, 2.8 rebounds, and 1.6 assists. He’s also been a career 33.0 percent shooter from distance, which isn’t good for a small forward. Being a fifth overall pick, his career so far has been a tad bit underwhelming, but since he’s only 22 years old, he’s got plenty of room to grow.

However, with Cleveland recently signing Max Strus, as well as re-signing Caris LeVert, Okoro’s role on the team looks to be the smallest it has ever been in the NBA. He’s probably not going to be the starting small forward to start the season off, and unless either an injury occurs or Okoro exceeds expectations, that won’t likely change throughout the season.

Granted, last year was arguably Okoro’s best season. Statistically, it didn’t look all that great as far as the counting stats. He averaged 6.4 points, 2.5 rebounds, and 1.1 assists per night, which were all career lows. On the plus side, his efficiency rose significantly.

He shot 49.4 percent from the field, the best of his career thus far. He also shot 36.3 percent from distance, which was also a career-high. His effective field goal percentage was the best of his three seasons to this point as well, at 58.2 percent, which was 3.2 percent higher than his 2021-22 season’s EFG rate.

Three-and-D wings are one of the most coveted kinds of players in the whole NBA, and the Cavaliers could definitely use a player like that. Considering that Cleveland’s small forward position has been changing a lot, having a player that could be the long-term small forward would be great. The Cavs’ small forward spot had been Cedi Osman, Isaac Okoro, Dean Wade, and Caris LeVert throughout the past season, and now there’s Max Strus it’d seem for next season.

Looking at all the players who have gotten contract extensions from the 2020 NBA Draft class, we only have five players. LaMelo Ball, Tyrese Haliburton, Anthony Edwards, Memphis’ Desmond Bane, and Detroit’s Isaiah Stewart.

Let’s take a look at one player in particular here, Isaiah Stewart. Okoro and Stewart are both on the same tier when it comes to talent, as neither are clearly not good enough to get max contracts, but both should get a solid deal. Stewart got a four-year, $64 million deal, with a team option on the last year. If Okoro were to get an extension done, perhaps it could be somewhere around that range.

That said, it’s difficult to foresee Okoro getting a contract extension this offseason. Seeing how he played in the playoffs, and how J.B. Bickerstaff practically cut him from the rotation, it wouldn’t be surprising to see Okoro land a new deal when he’s a free agent; next offseason, he could be set for restricted free agency, for context.

Although, let’s assume that Cleveland were to want to get a deal done, and doesn’t want to wait until next offseason. What would that contract look like, in that scenario?

Three years and $42 million, with a team option on the last year

It seems unlikely that Cleveland would want to give out a ton of guaranteed money to Okoro. If he begins to be unplayable in the regular season, the Cavaliers wouldn’t want to have a player on their books for several years. For years might be too much, so only two guaranteed years is a good deal for him.

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All in all, Okoro’s a nice player, there’s no denying that. His work ethic is really impressive, and he could eventually prove he was worth drafting fifth overall in time. He seems destined for a long NBA career, too, but as of now, one shouldn’t be sold on him being Cleveland’s small forward for the future.