J.B. Bickerstaff makes it clear how crucial Isaac Okoro has already become to Cavs’ success

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Despite Isaac Okoro’s rookie status, Cleveland Cavaliers head coach J.B. Bickerstaff is positive that he is already an integral part of the team’s lineup.

Bickerstaff spoke about the impact of Okoro’s absence as the Cavaliers went through shootaround for their Saturday road matchup against the Atlanta Hawks.

“It’s difficult,” Bickerstaff said. “He’s one of the guys where innately he brings that physicality and that force. We miss that.”

Okoro played in the Cavaliers’ first two games of the 2020-21 season, with the Cavs winning both contests. However, he suffered a sprained foot in the Dec. 26 win over the Detroit Pistons and has been out of the lineup since.

The Cavaliers only managed to win one of their following three games. They will again be without the services of Okoro against the Hawks.

Okoro is averaging just 5.5 points, 3.0 rebounds and 2.5 assists per game this season, but the rookie has already managed to gain the trust of Bickerstaff because of his focus on the fundamentals.

“It’s just Isaac. He makes you feel comfortable. He makes you feel like you can trust him because of the way he plays,” Bickerstaff said. “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.”

That maturity may seem odd for a player who won’t turn 20 years of age until later this month, but Okoro has been making a positive impression with the Cavs since the start of training camp.

The hope is that Okoro can get back on the court in the near future.

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Brad Sullivan is a lead writer for Cavaliers Nation. He has spent much of life in the Cleveland, Ohio area, and has remained a Cavalier fan from their 1970 beginnings through the return of LeBron James. While that fandom was sorely tested during the Reign of Error known simply by one word, Stepien, that overall historical perspective will be part of his writing for Cavaliers Nation in the months ahead.