3 Cavaliers players who need monster second halves to save their job

Chicago Bulls v Cleveland Cavaliers
Chicago Bulls v Cleveland Cavaliers / Ron Schwane/GettyImages
3 of 3

Isaac Okoro has made his case for a pay raise with Cleveland but cannot stop now

Cleveland's 2020 first-round prospect Isaac Okoro has had an unlucky but fortunate career thus far. While he is playing on a young contender, he entered the league as a more raw prospect who needed time to develop his offensive game. Once the Cavaliers burst onto the scene with Garland's breakout year and Mobley's rookie campaign, Okoro's development was sidetracked. Adding Mitchell's superstardom to the equation did not do him any favors, either.

This season, Okoro has shown consistent and true improvement as a 3-and-D forward, hitting 39.5 percent of his 2.7 three-point attempts per game while maintaining his stifling defense. He does not have the gravity on the perimeter more proven wings force, but he is coming around. With restricted free agency impending this offseason, Okoro makes a compelling case for a significant pay raise going forward after the parties could not agree on an extension this past summer.

The problem arises if Okoro flops in the playoffs. Last year, Okoro was an overall negative factor in the infamous New York Knicks series. To his credit, his defense stood the test. His offense did not. Okoro is proving himself in the NBA, and the Cavaliers may begin exploring sign-and-trade offers rather than keeping the young stud in the Land if his postseason performances fall below standards.

Moving Okoro to a team with time to develop him more might be a blessing in disguise, but he seems to want to stay where he is hat. He continually expresses his joy with the Cavs, and the rest of the roster seems to like having him there, too, even campaigning for his inclusion in this year's All-Defensive team. His regular season growth will play a role in the discussions, but the playoffs are his true proving ground as with the rest of the Cavaliers. Cleveland is looking to win now with little time to waste on failed playoff runs.

Regardless of any player's slumps, the Cleveland Cavaliers are still in a much better position to win when it matters this season. Their depth and offensive versatility complement their continued defensive excellence. Nobody is necessarily on the hot seat yet, but their regular season campaigns are not making them any less expendable. A perfect world for Cavs fans would include all three Cavs returning next season with gold rings coming at the home opener, but all great things take time.

How the Cavs compare to conference rivals post All-Star Break. dark. Next. How the Cavs compare to conference rivals post All-Star Break