No. 2: Isaac Okoro has to play less
Isaac Okoro has had the starting spot gift-wrapped that Dean Wade has never been able to retain. That’s not to suggest that Okoro hasn’t worked hard, or that he isn’t a good player. It does mean to communicate that from the moment Okoro was drafted, the Cavs have handed him the starting small forward position and asked him to rise to the occasion.
Okoro has played 210 games for the Cavaliers and started 174 of them, including all 128 games in his first two seasons. It took until the playoffs last season for the Cavs to seriously limit his role, on account of his poor shooting. Okoro is an extremely low-volume shooter who only takes wide-open attempts; 2.1 of his 2.3 3-pointers last season were classified as “wide open” by the NBA, a whopping 91 percent. The fact that he only hit 36.3 percent of his triples is an indictment on his shooting ability.
The defense is certainly there for Okoro, but primarily as a backcourt defender. He can hound opposing guards, is slippery over screens and has quick hands to poke the ball away. He’s only 6’5″ though, without a super-plus wingspan; he’s alright defending most small forwards, but it’s not his speciality, and against larger forwards he is toast.
The Cavs need to give up on shoehorning Okoro into the small forward position, instead slotting him in as a lockdown defender at the 2 who can play alongside a smaller guard and take on the more challenging defensive assignment. Perhaps his shot eventually comes around, perhaps not, but he needs to slip under 20 minutes per game and be a rotational option, not a rotation lock.