The Cleveland Cavaliers addressed their biggest need by choosing Auburn small forward Isaac Okoro with the fifth overall pick in the NBA draft Wednesday night.
The 6-foot-6, 225-pounder was widely considered the top defensive swingman available and joins a frontcourt that features two former All-Stars in center Andre Drummond and power forward Kevin Love.
Okoro averaged 12.9 points and 4.4 rebounds in his lone season with the Tigers, starting all 28 games as a freshman. The 19-year-old Powder Springs, Georgia, native shot .514 from the field and .672 from the foul line.
He is the Cavaliers’ third straight lottery pick since losing LeBron James to the Lakers in free agency in 2018.
Cleveland chose shooting guard Collin Sexton eighth overall two years ago and point guard Darius Garland fifth in 2019, but has received inconsistent play at small forward from Cedi Osman in the post-James era.
The Cavaliers finished with the worst record in the Eastern Conference — and the second-worst mark in the NBA — at 19-46. They won five of their final 11 games after J.B. Bickerstaff replaced John Beilein as coach and installed a more physical, post-oriented style.
Cleveland was one of eight teams excluded from the league’s regular season restart in Orlando, but held a 10-day minicamp at Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse in September.
Drummond exercised his $28.7 million player option earlier this week, putting the Cavaliers over the salary cap for the upcoming season. Drummond was acquired at the 2020 trade deadline from Detroit.
Love is under contract through 2022-23, while the starting backcourt of Sexton and Garland can’t become restricted free agents until at least 2023 and 2024, respectively.
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