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Can Okoro Bring a Defensive Mindset to Cleveland?

The fifth overall draft pick Isaac Okoro unveiled his new Cavs jersey with the number 35, which was his McEachern high school jersey number.

The Cavs were the second worst team in the league last season. The resignation of head coach John Beilein was absolutely necessary. The players weren’t too fond of Beilein. Tristan Thompson and Kevin Love have both publicly disregarded him during actual games. Additionally, Beilein vocalized his disappointments in the team’s performance. The then assistant head coach J.B. Bickerstaff was promoted to head coach shortly after Beilein resigned. 

The greatest area for opportunity for the Cavs is defense, which was single handedly the most crucial part of this draft. The Cavs were determined to recruit a player that can drive the defensive end and play make. Bickstaff was certain Okoro could be that player.

“Our objective is allowing him to play to his strengths. (Okoro) being able to defend, share the ball, make his team better, those are all a part of basketball but the way he competes, how hard he plays… that’s a priority for us,” said Bickerstaff.  “We wanted people who were good people, good in the locker room and who cared about something larger than themselves. When you look at Isaac play and his history, that’s who he is… sacrificing his body, getting on the floor, while still trying to be the best player on the team.”

Okoro is more than confident in his abilities and his future contributions to the Cavs playing positions 1-4. The small forward feels like his playmaking skills are “unrated”. It’s no secret Okoro shooting abilities are limited. Okoro is adamant about strengthening his shooting skills. During quarantine, he played pick-up games at his alma mater Auburn University.

“It’s about getting in the gym every day and just working on it. (I’m) working on my shot every day to make it better,” explained Okoro.

Bickerstaff is optimistic that Okoro is exactly what Cleveland needs. “He’s good at running the floor. (Okoro) attacks close out extremely well, always under control and balanced.”

Truth of the matter, the Cavs don’t need to become a championship contender. They need to rebuild to make it to the playoffs. Okoro could be the start of repair.  

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