Coming into his second NBA season, there is a little pressure on Isaac Okoro. He’s part of a very young starting lineup, where the leading scorer has faced unnecessary scrutiny. As the rebuild moves forward, his game will be expected to do the same. He needs to find more consistency with his shot because if he does, that would make him lethal.
Not many 19-20-year-olds come into the league as the best defender on their roster. But Okoro was just that for his team a season ago. He was thrown right into the fire, covering the best players on the opposing teams for the entirety of the year. And he did all of that with a limited preseason and no summer league. His Cavs debut came roughly 30 days after the team selected him.
This is a brand-new season for everybody. And so, let’s take a look at some of the realistic expectations for Isaac Okoro. About what can be expected.
If you’re a starter on an NBA team, averaging at least 10 points per game should be expected of you. Especially if you’re more of a perimeter player. During his first go-round, Okoro put up a meager 9.6 per contest, with shooting splits of .420/.290/.726. All in all, he made roughly one three per night, but the 29% has got to increase.
When one of Garland/Sexton is on the bench, he needs to look to be more aggressive. There were three occasions a season ago where Okoro topped 20+ points and one where he scored over 30. The most impressive part is the 30-point outburst that happened to come against the Phoenix Suns, who were two wins away from the title.
Free-throw shooting started as an issue, and then he got better as the year went on. Scoring 13-14 per game is what should ideally be the case for Okoro. And realistically, this is very possible. He’s put some time in, as showcased by the summer league effort. If Okoro can show the improvements with his shot, the team will be instantly better.
There were days where Isaac Okoro was knocking down threes like they were nothing. But more often than not, putting the deep shots into the hoop was a difficult task. It was an adjustment period for the rookie, and he also had to guard the best player every time down, expending extra energy.
In order to be a major contributor, Okoro has to be able to make his shots more consistently. The form is still the same, but he showed some good signs in the Summer League. There has never been an issue with his cutting and getting to the rim but on the perimeter. Because Garland or Sexton ever face a double-team, he can be an option.
Michael Kidd-Gilchrist never developed a J. Tony Allen never developed a J. These are guys known notoriously for defense, and MKG was (erroneously) taken #2 overall because of it. Allen is one, if not THE BEST perimeter defender of the past 15 years. Okoro can be even more valuable than him if he can just develop the shot.
Okoro at times defends as physically as Patrick Beverley. If he could shoot like him too? Man. Game over.
It is not often you can talk about a second-year player as holding a leadership role. But that will be the case for Okoro. He went through the wringer last season. He could never take a single possession off because if he did, the other team’s star would get a quick bucket.
Having been through an exhausting rookie campaign, he’s ready to help instill wisdom in Evan Mobley. To become more vocal. A lot of the Cavs promising young stars aren’t vocal. At least, it doesn’t appear as such and the media hasn’t said otherwise. A hard-nosed player like Okoro is perfect for that.
All he needs to do is make sure his teammates are all held accountable, and when anything happens, communicate what went down. To keep everybody focused on the same goal. It is the little things that will go a long way.
Ricky Rubio is going to provide a lot of value to the team at the start of the year. But it’s still important for Okoro to stay aggressive on and off the court. Make sure the team is on the same page with the same goal.
Stat Projections for Isaac Okoro
- PPG: 13.1
- RPG: 4.0
- APG: 3.0
- SPG: 1.5
- FG%: 41%
- 3PT%: 31
- FT%: 73%