CLEVELAND, Ohio - The Cleveland Cavaliers selected Isaac Okoro with the fifth overall pick of Wednesday night's NBA Draft.
Okoro, a 6-foot-6, 225-pound small forward coming off his lone season at Auburn, averaged 12.9 PPG/4.4 RPG/2.0 APG during the 2019-20 collegiate season. He was named to the All-SEC second team (as well as the conference's All-Freshman and All-Defensive teams), and helped the Tigers to a 25-6 record and a second-place finish in the Southeastern Conference before the season's cancellation due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The 19-year-old joins fellow small forwards Cedi Osman and Alfonso McKinnie on the Cavaliers, who finished the 2019-20 NBA season with a 19-46 record. Over the past two seasons, the Cavs have struggled to stop teams from scoring, ranking last in the NBA in defensive efficiency (1.121 points per 100 possessions during the 2019-20 season).
During his post-selection press teleconference, Okoro was confident he could help the Cavs on the non-ball side of the floor.
"I feel like I am the best defensive player in this draft...like I'm able to switch off, run the floor, and still hold my ground."
"I feel like I can take that challenge of guarding the other team's best player," Okoro continued, "trying to slow them down, and just giving our guards time to just focus on offense."
Okoro now teams up with Cavs guards Collin Sexton and Darius Garland, the former of which Okoro played against when the two were in high school in Powder Spring, Georgia. The two also stem from the SEC, with Sexton coming out of Alabama and Okoro from Auburn.
Speaking of the SEC, an example of Okoro's defensive prowess was when his Tigers took on the Georgia Bulldogs and Anthony Edwards, who was taken first overall by the Minnesota Timberwolves early Wednesday night. Edwards, who averaged 19.1 PPG last season, only shot a combined 13-31 and turned the ball over 10 times when guarded by Okoro over two matchups.
Of course, Okoro's ultimate goal for the season - which begins in just over a month - is to get the Cavs back to postseason basketball.
"My goal for this year is to help the Cavaliers get back to the playoffs, just do anything to help us win and get back to the playoffs."
Okoro was taken with the fifth pick following fellow prospects Edwards, James Wiseman (Warriors), La'Melo Ball (Hornets), and Patrick Williams (Bulls), respectively.