3 Cavaliers players that need to step up in Garland and Mobley's absence

Tristan Thompson and Isaac Okoro, Cleveland Cavaliers
Tristan Thompson and Isaac Okoro, Cleveland Cavaliers / Jason Miller/GettyImages
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With Darius Garland and Evan Mobley being out for an extended stretch, the Cleveland Cavaliers preached the next man up mentality. One guy was not going to be Garland. One guy was not going to be Mobley. Instead, guys were going to collectively fill their roles by committee.
One guy could explode on any given night to will the Cavs to victory.

Since the gloomy injury announcements, the Cavs are 3-0, including a 124-116 victory over the Utah Jazz. This game was the toughest so far, as the Cavs were missing three members of their core four: Garland, Mobley, and Donovan Mitchell, who was battling illness. Despite that, the Cavs hit 23 three pointers, tied for the second-most in a regular season game in franchise history.

One would assume that Caris LeVert or Max Strus led the way, and they would be partially correct. Strus and LeVert combined for 40 points, and 10 three-pointers. Instead, it was Sam Merrill, who scored 27 points off the bench, and had eight three-pointers. On a night where the Cavs were missing about 64 points worth of offense, Merrill was in the spotlight, and led the way for the Wine and Gold.

A game like this just signifies the theme that the Cavs are going to need multiple guys to step up, and in each game a new player has led the way. Against the Atlanta Hawks, it was Jarrett Allen. Against the Houston Rockets, it was Mitchell. Against the Jazz it was Merrill. The Cavaliers need to continue this in order to survive this stretch.

Here are the three Cavs players that need to continue to step up in the absence of Garland and Mobley.

No. 1: Isaac Okoro

Isaac Okoro has never been a premier offensive talent, but he has offensive ability. He is great at getting to the basket, and using his size and athleticism to get to finish at the rim. He is also a great cutter, and good at finding open spaces. However, his lack of consistency on a game-to-game basis has been a glaring issue during his Cavs tenure.

In the three games since the Garland-Mobley injury news, Okoro has scored 18, 11, and five points, respectively, and he is taking eight shots per game. He has been passive at times, and this is surprising given the fact that the Cavs are missing so much offense. He is doing other things well offensively, as he is averaging five assists per game across the same stretch, and shooting 55 percent from three-point range, albeit on only nine total attempts. It is not that Okoro can’t be good offensively, it's just that he is not aggressive enough.

He has worked tirelessly to improve his shooting, and offense over the past couple years, but that has not yielded consistent results. Okoro doesn’t need to be Garland, or Mitchell when it comes to offense. He has all he needs to be a successful offensive player, and he needs to trust that. But, it is good to see that his playmaking is taking strides. Now, he needs to bring his scoring along as well.

The Cavaliers are going to need him to be more consistent during this stretch.