Most to Prove No. 4: Isaac Okoro
Isaac Okoro is eligible to sign a rookie contract extension right now but there is essentially no chatter about a deal being discussed. That’s because there’s no way that Okoro will sign a deal at the low number the Cavs would be willing to offer. They hold all of the cards right now, and it will be up to Ice to prove himself this year.
He is one of the league’s best backcourt defenders, but defense alone doesn’t earn you a place in playoff rotations in 2023. He needs to improve as a shooter enough to be defended or he will quickly find himself off of this team and soon out of the league. If he can continue to increase his accuracy then he has a chance at earning a multi-year deal next summer.
Most to Prove No. 3: Dean Wade
Two seasons ago Dean Wade was the Cavaliers’ secret weapon, the player who made lineups with the starters sing. That earned him a three-year contract extension, a great accomplishment for the undrafted forward. Unfortunately, he followed that up with an injury-riddled season that saw his shooting percentages tank, likely connected to a shoulder injury that never fully healed.
If Wade comes back and his shot is back, his size, defense and savvy make him an ideal fit not only for the rotation but likely as the fifth starter as well. A Wade playing at the height of his powers opens up plenty of lineup combinations.
If Wade’s shot isn’t back, however, he could be a throw-in candidate in a trade for a replacement wing, and ultimately he could fail to secure another contract after this one. He is most valuable to the Cavs, and if he leaves Cleveland he may not get another chance in the league.