3 Cleveland Cavaliers players that could surprise us in 2023-2024

Tristan Thompson, Cleveland Cavaliers. (Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images)
Tristan Thompson, Cleveland Cavaliers. (Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images) /
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Cleveland Cavaliers
Isaac Okoro, Cleveland Cavaliers. Photo by Lauren Leigh Bacho/Getty Images /

No. 3: Isaac Okoro

Season four is starting for Okoro and he didn’t get his extension, or at least not yet. Here are the players picked after him in the 2020 Draft who already got their payday: Tyrese Haliburton, Desmond Bane, and Isaiah Stewart. Others like Tyrese Maxey should have gotten their money, but the Philadelphia 76ers wanted to save cap space, but management is taking a considerable risk. And New York’s Immanuel Quickley should have been extended, too, and if he isn’t soon, will be a restricted free agent next summer.

Okoro is not close to impacting a game like any of those players. Yet, I’d wager that in 2023-24, Okoro will have a much stronger season than the last. Not just because of experience but because his time in Cleveland could be coming to an end if he doesn’t contribute more. The Cavaliers overpaying (had to be done) for Max Strus and signing Georges Niang is an indication they needed more help on the wings. There is no reason to keep Okoro if he is the same player as last season.

At his best last season, Okoro was playing solid defense and hitting 3-pointers. In the 2023 Playoffs, he was exposed and couldn’t stay with the ball. Improving on that assuredly would buy him more minutes. But he also needs to take more than 2.3 triples a game, as he was converting at a 36.3 percent clip. A stat that provides optimism for Okoro’s offensive future is that his effective field goal percentage (one of the most reputable efficiency stats) was at 58.2 last year.

Offensively, he needs to constantly stay moving on the perimeter and make baseline cuts or gashes through the middle. Okoro is also big enough to deliver punishment on a screen, so he should be used often for it.

The Cavaliers have the personnel next to him so that he thrives. Okoro will need to finish at close range and hit deep shots at a higher volume and it is perfectly possible. Donovan Mitchell and Darius Garland can attract extra help outside. Evan Mobley is developing into the type of player that will require doubles in the paint.

This season, Okoro will have to capitalize on all of it.

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Every team needs contingency plans. The Cavaliers are stocked with Porter, Thompson and Okoro in case the season experiences turbulence.