The Cleveland Cavaliers have a potential shooter in Ochai Agbaji but he needs time.
The Cleveland Cavaliers have finished their scheduled Summer League contests for the 2022 season, but there’s still more action to play. The Summer League will then match up teams for the fifth and final showing, with the top two teams playing for the Summer League Championship. The Cleveland Cavaliers finished their first four games going 2-2, eliminating them from title contention.
This year the Summer League champs are getting rings, so that’s actually something I’m sure players would’ve wanted a shot at. Yet, the point of the Summer League isn’t to crown champions but to see what the young talent of tomorrow can do today. The Cavs are no different in that regard, with Ochai Agbaji being the central storyline for this year’s squad.
While some on Twitter wanted to use in-vogue statements like “Ochai Agbaji is that guy” and he’s “For real”, the fact is Agbaji proved why he was a surprise pick that early. He didn’t have the best Summer League possible, shooting just 37% from the floor, 37.5% from three, but 91% from three.
His defense wasn’t very good either, posting horrific defensive stats for his first four games.
Overall, he was disappointing, but this isn’t an indictment of his career. No, we don’t know what he’s going to be, and proclaiming him a bust or a future All-Star would be silly and premature. The only thing we know about Agbaji is that he’s a project that needs time.
The Cleveland Cavaliers cannot rely on Ochai Agbaji out the gate
We know that that the young wing player is not a consistent presence yet on the court. He was facing mostly rookie and mid-tier talent, and he had problems hitting his shots. Most of these teams don’t play great defense, so this was less about Agbaji being swarmed by All-Defensive Team caliber players on the NBA level and just him missing his shots.
Agbaji may be fine in the NBA in a few months, he may never be. He may be the next Ray Allen or Steph Curry. We don’t know. What we do know is that his inconsistency in the Summer League should give the Cavs pause from giving him huge minutes early on.
Relying on him as a role player right out the gate could not only be catastrophic to the team but to him as well. A shooter in basketball is like a hitter in baseball; it’s mostly about confidence and rhythm.
Once those are interrupted or nerfed completely, the player falls apart. Letting Agbaji adapt to the NBA gradually when the season starts is the best tactic while letting him play less-important numbers to really build up his confidence and belief in his shot.