It didn’t take long for rookie Isaac Okoro to establish himself as a difference maker for the Cavaliers, writes Chris Fedor of Cleveland.com. The fifth player taken in this year’s draft won the starting small forward job in training camp and was effective in his first two games before suffering a sprained foot. He was recently placed in the NBA’s COVID-19 health and safety protocol, so the Cavs aren’t sure when he can return, although they’re hoping he’ll be back before their road trip ends next Saturday.
“He makes you feel comfortable. He makes you feel like you can trust him because of the way he plays,” head coach J.B. Bickerstaff said of Okoro. “He’s safe with the basketball. He doesn’t mess up many assignments. He executes offensively where he’s supposed to, and he just does all the little things that make the game of basketball easy. He made us feel extremely comfortable that we can rely on him while he’s out there on the floor.”
Cleveland has started three different players at small forward in the three games since losing Okoro. Larry Nance Jr. got the assignment first, followed by Cedi Osman and then Dante Exum in what Bickerstaff called a “matchup thing” against the Pacers. Damyean Dotson may also be in the mix until Okoro returns, Fedor adds.
There’s more from Cleveland:
- The Cavaliers are seeing significant improvement from second-year guard Darius Garland, notes Terry Pluto of Cleveland.com. After a rough rookie season, there were reports that Garland stepped up his game at the team’s voluntary mini-camp. He’s carried that over to the new season, averaging 19.0 points, 7.2 assists and 3.6 rebounds through five games.
- The Cavs are being careful with veteran guard Matthew Dellavedova, who hasn’t played since suffering a concussion during the preseason, Pluto adds in the same piece. Dellavedova has experienced several concussions in his career, and the team wants to make sure he’s completely ready to play.
- Kevin Porter Jr. is dealing with personal issues and Cavaliers officials aren’t sure when he’ll resume playing, sources tell Pluto. Charges against Porter from a November incident were dropped last month, but the front office remains concerned about his maturity level.