Taken fifth overall in the 2020 NBA Draft, Isaac Okoro was drafted specifically for his defensive prowess. While he hasn’t made any All-Defense squads or been in any real contention for the NBA Defensive Player of the Year Award, it’s fair to say that Okoro has been a fine defensive player for the Cavs. The problem is that he was the fifth overall pick and needs to be better than fine defensively to warrant his place on the team.
Okoro’s defense isn’t in question but his offense is. We saw his scoring numbers fall year to year, and while he had better shooting percentages in 2021-2022 than he did as a rookie, his points per game dropped.
Isaac Okoro has proven a few things. Firstly, his mid-range game died a death, and his rate of success dropped from 36% to 25% when he shot between 3-10′ from the basket and 27.3% to 14.3% from 16′ to the three-point line. So unless he was in the paint, attacking the basket, Okoro was unreliable offensively speaking. He shot nearly 50% of his shots from inside the paint, and as a two-guard, you can’t have him focusing so much inside like that. Not when Evan Mobley and Jarrett Allen are there to do just that.
His three-point shooting improved, but he shot less, and that’s not a good thing. This is probably going to be what Okoro is, a potential 10-12 point per game guy given the right circumstances. If that was it, then fine, but he was the fifth overall pick for his defense, and he’s not even the best defensive wing in the draft.
The Washington Wizards’ Deni Avdija is a better defensive option than Okoro and has shown more growth offensively than the Cavs wing. You could make the argument that he’s falling close to “bust” territory and the Cavs need to move on from Okoro. In doing so, the hope is they find an offensive wing who isn’t such a liability with the ball in the half-court.