No. 5: Isaac Okoro
Isaac Okoro may be the least talked about player among the Cavaliers young core, and for good reason: people often look past the hard-working, blue-collar players in favor of athletic, flashy scorers of the league.
While Okoro’s game is hardly flashy, and his rookie season numbers (9.6 points, 3.1 rebounds, 1.9 assists, 0.9 steals) aren’t too attention-worthy, what he brings to the table for the Cavs go way beyond the stat sheets.
The fifth overall pick in last year’s NBA draft is willing to do the dirty work as a primarily defensive-minded player. Despite being a slightly undersized wing at 6-foot-5, he relishes the opportunity to guard the opposing team’s best (and often larger) players such as LeBron James, Kevin Durant, and Giannis Antetokounmpo.
For that reason alone, Okoro is regarded as one of Cleveland’s most important young pieces, and despite his still developing offensive game, he brings a bit of everything on both ends of the court. One of the players he gets compared to, Miami Heat guard Jimmy Butler also sang his praises.
Per Rookie Wire:
"“I was talking to U.D. (Udonis Haslem) at the end of the game and we agreed the kid is going to be really good,” Butler said of Okoro. “His potential is out of this world. Hopefully, he is 10 times better than I am. If he keeps working, the sky is the limit.”"
He has since bulked up his already brawny frame even more and has proven to be able to step up offensively when called upon. He even led the team in scoring in his two appearances at the Las Vegas Summer League a month ago.
As one of the hardest-working players in the young roster, Isaac Okoro’s career may very well go on a similar trajectory as his All-Star role model if he keeps at it.