The Cleveland Cavaliers recorded a winning season in the 2021-22 campaign. As a result, the team didn’t have a pick in the top end of the lottery for the first time in a couple of seasons.
Even so, the Cavs may have found another solid rookie after drafting Ochai Agbaji with the No. 14 pick in the 2022 NBA Draft.
The University of Kansas product seems like a good fit in Cleveland because of his shooting prowess and knack for winning.
Agbaji participated in four of the Cavs’ five Summer League games. His numbers did not stand out that much, scoring 15.0 points per game while shooting 37.3 percent from the field and 37.5 percent beyond the arc.
“Guys are going to be into him and force him to play inside that 3-point line,” Cavs Summer League coach Mike Gerrity said. “I think he will get easier looks during the regular season and hopefully we will create situations where he will get more catch-and-shoots as opposed to having to run off so many screens. Find that balance. But I think it’s definitely going to be part of his development is continuing to put it on the floor and getting to his midrange and getting to his drive-and-kick. Those are all things he can take into this offseason.”
On top of Gerrity’s comments, some executives and coaches were seemingly impressed with his potential to mesh well with his Cavs teammates.
“Other executives and coaches who spoke with cleveland.com were saying the same,” wrote Chris Fedor of Cleveland.com. “It wasn’t so much about Agbaji’s Summer League numbers. It was about projecting how he could fare with his regular-season Cavaliers teammates.
“Agbaji was drafted to bring a ceiling-raising dimension on offense, creating space for Cleveland’s attack-minded guards. But having a better supporting cast will help mask some of his flaws. The Cavs don’t need another ball-dominant creator. They don’t need him to be a go-to scoring option. They don’t even need him to play 30 minutes per game. They need him to be a reliable — and willing — outside shooter and complementary piece. They need his movement-based skill set and off-ball package to help diversify a predictable offense.”
Exhibiting an ability to complement his teammates on the court could bode well for Agbaji as a member of the Cavs. After all, the team already has players who are primed to get a lot of touches on offense, such as Darius Garland and Evan Mobley.
In addition, the 22-year-old is already more experienced than many other rookies, having played four years in college. He even led Kansas to a national title earlier this year and earned the Final Four’s Most Outstanding Player award.
It will be interesting to see if Agbaji can crack the Cavs’ rotation this season, even though there are several wing players on the roster.