Okoro was the fifth overall pick in last month’s NBA draft by the Cavs, with earlier hints that the team was looking at some of the other top prospects.
The latest example of his ability to grab attention in training camp came during a scrimmage on Thursday, when Okoro drained a 3-pointer in the closing moments. That long-range shooting touch was reported to be one of Okoro’s flaws coming out of the University of Auburn, but Nance dismissed that perception.
“He’s the real deal,” Larry Nance Jr. told cleveland.com. “His shot is not what it was made out to be. It is not broken. It is completely fine.”
The chief selling point that the 6-foot-6 forward had entering the draft was his ability to lock down opponents on defense.
That skill is something the Cavaliers have needed over the past two rebuilding campaigns that have both ended with 19-win seasons.
Cavaliers head coach J.B. Bickerstaff has urged Okoro to put the ball up from deep when left alone.
“When he shoots it the right way, it goes,” Bickerstaff said. “That’s what our conversations with him are — just shoot the right shot more often. If you’re open, you have to shoot it. You put in enough time, you shoot enough shots, if you’re open you have to take that shot. If not, you’re giving the defense an advantage if you don’t take open shots.”
The hope is that Okoro will take advantage of the chance to start at small forward. If the rookie’s work ethic has any effect on that decision, the chances of that happening appear to be high.