Isaac Okoro’s role in Cleveland was reportedly diminished after the Cavs completed their sign-and-trade for Max Strus, moving Okoro from the starting five to the second unit. While Okoro has always been a strong wing defender, his disappointing offensive growth has led to a number of frustrating memories for the Cavaliers faithful.
In the preseason, Okoro has come off the bench and embraced the role as a spark plug and defensive stalwart. In the first game against the Hawks, Okoro played 21 minutes and scored 19 points. He also showed better confidence from behind the arc, knocking down two of his four 3-point attempts. Okoro had the best plus/minus rating on the entire roster with a +14 by the time the game ended.
Though he struggled mightily in the second game versus Orlando, Okoro’s game one performance was a welcome surprise to begin the preseason. The overall construction of the new-look Cavaliers has opened up the court more for Okoro, no longer relegating him to standing in the corner on offense and launching up last second 3-point attempts when the team cannot find any other openings.
Consistency will be the determining piece for Okoro, as his impending contract extension discussions with Cleveland loom over this season for the young wing. Given his shaky career beginnings, an improved effort and production this season would be an incredible boost for his future both with the Cavaliers and across the NBA.