The Isaac Okoro Experiment Needs To End For Good

The Isaac Okoro Experiment Needs To End For Good

Drew Thirion
3 months ago
3 min read
Cleveland Cavaliers' Isaac Okoro looks on with the basketball during game

I know Okoro is still relatively young, but it needs to be said; I think it might be time to cut our losses. You hate to give up on a 2020 draft pick that showed signs of improvement last season, but there have been huge indicators of regression with Isaac Okoro.

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 Not only has his jumper shown no progress, but his defense has become one of the most overrated qualities of any Cavalier. 

Okoro’s defensive rating has improved this season and is a career-best 107. That is slightly misleading though, as it’s much easier to have a lower defensive rating with limited minutes.

 A more telling stat is his mixed team defense rating is 59%, and that shows the total value added to the floor by his defense compared to the rest of the league. Not only that, but his defensive net rating is at a 0, hardly above league average, but his offensive net rating is second worst in the NBA only ahead of Killian Hayes. 

Even if you’re still a fan of Okoro’s tough nose on-ball defense, at some point you have to recognize that his offensive deficiencies are far out weighing anything he could bring defensively. His mixed teamwork rank percentage which grades how much of a positive margin you bring to your team is at 0%. 

He’s worse than every other player in the NBA in bringing value to this team. This isn’t like the Guardians throwing out Myles Straw and his slightly above the Mendoza Line batting average. Straw still generated a positive WAR with actually elite defense. Okoro’s is only a slightly above average defender. 

Additionally, I find it egregious that Okoro is receiving more minutes then Dean Wade in any ballgame. 

I’ve written before that I feel like Wade should be starting, but I’m okay with him coming off of the bench. It’s beyond inexcusable for him to be receiving less minutes than Okoro, and its also insane that Cedi Osman can only play 3 minutes against the Clippers, when the offense desperately needed a jolt. 

If the Cavs are still looking for an option off the bench that can provide defense (Wade already does that), they need to think about playing Lamar Stevens more. 

It’s hard to actually judge Stevens off of his performance this year as he’s only logged minutes in three games, but he’s still a player with solid defensive metrics. Not only that, but most reports out of camp this year praised Stevens for how much he was able to improve on the offensive side of things, especially with his jumpshot. 

I also think the Cavs have enough defensive versatility with elite big men, so I think the offense would see far more production with a competent shooter on the floor. 

When Okoro’s on the floor, he lets opponents pack in more on defense, and makes life more difficult on Donovan Mitchell, Caris LeVert, and Darius Garland when they look to drive. Not only that, but his 29% field goal percentage ends up letting opponents get out more in transition, where the Cavs have been significantly worse defensively. 

At this point, what’s it going to hurt to give other players on the Cavs roster some of Okoro’s minutes. I’m certainly not sold on Dylan Windler, but hopefully he gets some chances whenever he’s able to recover from his ankle injury. 

If not, you might as well see what you have with Sharife Cooper. If not Cooper, then you could also move back to some three-big-men lineups with more minutes for Robin Lopez or Mamadi Diakite. Whatever the case, I think it’s time we see less of Isaac Okoro.

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