Auburn basketball: B/R would have preferred Okoro on the Hawks instead of Cavs

Auburn basketball Jc Auburnvandy 16
Auburn basketball Jc Auburnvandy 16 /

If Bleacher Report has soothsaying abilities, they will have accurately predicted Auburn basketball star Isaac Okoro not reaching his full potential with the Cleveland Cavaliers, wasting his talents instead of elevating a team like the Atlanta Hawks.

Oftentimes, practicing in hindsight is a useless measure. In the scenario of Auburn basketball fans judging how the best player that has come through the program since Charles Barkley himself is treated at the next level, hindsight is allowed by the War Eagle.

After watching Jared Harper fail to find the floor for any meaningful stretches and Chuma Okeke fail to find the floor at all due to injuries, Tigers fans should be excited at the prospect of seeing Isaac Okoro play at the professional level.

They should just temper their excitement a bit since he will be suiting up for the Cleveland Cavaliers.

As Bleacher Report’s Jonathan Wasserman points out, Okoro has a Marcus Smart-like ceiling and could contribute to a team in the same way Smart has with the Boston Celtics:

"Isaac Okoro’s IQ, defensive toughness and competitiveness can carry right over in a supporting role, the way they did for Marcus Smart in Boston. Before the draft, it seemed easy to picture him as a similarly impactful player for a playoff team.Instead, Okoro’s NBA-ready package of off-ball skills and intangibles may now go wasted in Cleveland."

Okoro is not just an athlete on the floor. Like Smart, he has a killer instinct on the defensive end, and in general, possesses a penchant for making the big play. Those intangibles could go a long way with the right NBA franchise.

Like Wasserman points out, though, Cleveland might not be that:

"It’s understandable why the Cavaliers thought he was the right pick at No. 5 overall. They have scoring weapons in Collin Sexton and Kevin Love and a need for a glue guy and defensive presence.Unfortunately for Okoro, he won’t bring enough to move the needle for a roster run by Darius Garland, with an aging Love and Andre Drummond likely to get traded on the final year of his deal. And there isn’t a clear path toward serious playoff contention for Cleveland anytime soon."

Collin Sexton and Kevin Love seem to be nice building blocks for a team, but the two had instances of butting heads in 2019-20. Love is a championship veteran who went from being the third wheel on a title-winner to being the high-priced veteran that stuck around while his two co-stars departed for bright lights and bigger cities. Sexton has yet to earn his respect, but the ball is in his hands anyway…for better or for worse.

As for Darius Garland and Andre Drummond, it appears as though one, if not both, of them could be dealt to clear up the pecking order a bit in Cleveland; Garland takes the ball out of Sexton’s hands, while Drummond is more useful than the Tyson Chandler role the Cavaliers likely have him penciled in to serve as.

To wrap up his point, Wasserman tossed out the Atlanta Hawks as a preferable option. Unfortunately, the Hawks were one pick too late, robbing Auburn basketball fans a chance to drive a short way from Lee County to catch Okoro in the pros:

"Had Okoro slipped one more spot to the Atlanta Hawks, he could have been a difference-maker for a rising team in the East that now has multiple offensive standouts in Trae Young, John Collins, Danilo Gallinari and Bogdan Bogdanovic."

Alas, the Cavaliers will have to do for Tigers fans hungry for seeing Okoro perform at the next level. If Sexton, Garland, Dylan Windler, Kevin Porter Jr. and Okoro could all perform admirably and the team can field competitive offers for Love and/or Drummond, Cleveland could have adopted Auburn basketball fans cheering for something special in 2020-21 and moving forward.

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