The dawn of draft night brings nerves not only to every NBA organization, but the fans that root for the team. This year, it was a critical that the Cavs find a talented player at #5 that could play an integral role in their future.
And by selecting Auburn’s Isaac Okoro at #5, they did just that. He might have been the most impactful defensive player in the entire draft. He’s a hard-nosed guy. He also has a pre-existing relationship with budding star Collin Sexton, as both of them are Georgia natives.
Dissecting Okoro’s Strengths
Not as many people watched Isaac Okoro this year as they would have during any other. Because March Madness was postponed due to COVID-19, we never got to see how he or any of the other players could perform on the big stage.
Okoro’s greatest skill would have to be his defensive ability. In one-on-one situations last season, opposing players shot just 20% against him. Four out of every five guys that tried to score on Okoro would be unsuccessful. That’s in large part thanks to length and athleticism, but also his willingness to work hard.
And this talent of his is no secret. Larry Nance Jr. tweeted this about Okoro. He knows just what the young man from Auburn will bring to the table. The addition of Okoro could truly revitalize this organization, and have everybody on the floor working hard to match his energy.
His shooting leaves a lot to be desired, but he can still be effective as a scorer. He scored 15+ points on eight occasions at Auburn, with a season-high of 23 points in a win against Vanderbilt.
He was taken for his defensive ability, and the rest will come later. It’s safe to say that he’ll be given all the opportunities to succeed. The Cavs hit a home run with this selection.
Lamar Stevens Joins the Fray
Every year after the draft, the Cavs shift their attention to the undrafted free agent pool. In 2018, they signed Dakota Mathias. In 2019, it was Dean Wade. Penn State’s Lamar Stevens is the latest to join the squad. After four years at Penn State, he’s now officially an NBA player.
Stevens started all 135 games he appeared in over four years with the Nittany Lions, averaging 16 points, seven rebounds and two assists per game. He made 43% of his shots, making 56 of his 189 threes. Not amazing, but not terrible. He has the confidence to fire away.
Stevens isn’t expected to make much of an impact next year given the team’s abundance of bigs. The careers of other Penn State NBA players over the years would also indicate that being great is rarely in the cards.
No former Nittany Lions have ever averaged more than 10 points, four rebounds, or four assists per game over the course of their career. To date, the most impactful Penn State NBA players have been point guard Tim Frazier, and big man Frank Brickowski.
Stevens is a player that excelled on a Penn State team that overachieved last season. That extra exposure helped him get a few extra looks. And in turn, it landed him in Cleveland. He’ll likely see a few garbage-time minutes from time-to-time. But being on a two-way contract will limit how much he can play. He’ll have a lot of time in the G-League.
Nice Work, Cavs
As soon as the Bulls took Patrick Williams at #4, it was clear that the Cavs decision would be tough. They could have gone with Obi Toppin or Deni Avdija. Both are extremely talented and were on the Cavs wish list. Passing on Isaac Okoro was just too tough, they decided. And so, they got the guy that fans were clamoring for.
The Cavs get an A+ grade for the 2020 draft. They got a high-impact player. They didn’t force any trades, thus keeping their assets on the roster heading in to the season. And they have a pretty good big man at the bottom of the roster now.
Let free agency commence.