CLEVELAND, Ohio – The Cleveland Cavaliers have entered the off-season with a plan to add more shots.
They took the first step on Thursday night, selecting Kansas sharpshooter Ochai Agbaji with pick number 14 in the 2022 NBA Draft. Despite numerous commercial rumors involving the Cavs first-round pick, sources tell cleveland.com that the Cavaliers they are not going to trade the 6-foot-5 swingman.
“I just want to thank the organization and Cleveland for enlisting me, believing in me,” Agbaji said Thursday night from Brooklyn’s Barclay’s Center. “I’ll give you 110 percent every single day and a positive attitude. I will become a hard worker. Come in, be humble and represent my city well ”.
With other potential targets Ousmane Dieng and Jalen Williams making a few choices before the Oklahoma City Thunder, the Cavs opted for Agbaji, considered a ready, plug-and-play 3-and-D winger.
They targeted Agbaji during the pre-draft process due to his elite shot, which separates him from any other player currently on the roster. The Cavs saw that stroke in person during his group training at the Cleveland Clinic Courts a few weeks ago. He also checks other boxes that Cleveland appreciates: character, stylistic fit, athleticism, versatility and work ethic.
Despite winning 44 games last season, doubling their total from the previous year, the Cavs finished 20th in the offensive standings and scored 3. They only ranked 22nd in the 3-point attempts and at 15 ° in percentage.
“The shooting piece was important,” said basketball operations president Koby Altman. “The fact that he can play a wing, the fact that he can protect the wing is fantastic. I don’t know if this was as involved as the need to shoot. I don’t want to put it on a pedestal and say, “This is the next big wing we design.” But maybe it is. I know that he adapts immediately to a need and will compete and has that winning pedigree that we really like. “
Agbaji, who is fourth in the history of the school in 3s made (250), should help with this. He averaged 1.27 points per catch and shoot jumper, which was ranked in the 94th percentile. He also showed the ability to smoothly get off the screens and dribble hand offs. Complementing his skillful outside play, Agbaji used his power and athleticism when he had a free path to the edge, averaging 1.45 points per shot around the sideline at half court (94th percentile).
Making steady improvements every year while in Kansas, Agbaji came out for the 2021 NBA Draft, participated in the combine, received feedback on his draft placement, took it to heart, and returned to Kansas for his campaign from senior. There were high expectations for Agabji upon his return. He surpassed them all, clinching the Big 12 Player of the Year title, being named First-Team All-American Consensual, and leading the Jayhawks to their first NCAA championship since 2008. He capped his unlikely star tour with the Most Outstanding. Player in the NCAA Final Four.
That outstanding senior year elevated Agbaji – a finalist for the 2021-22 Naismith Trophy, the Wooden Award and the Jerry West Shooting Guard of the Year Award – from round two picking to the lottery.
“To see the natural progression that has happened and to see him being a guy who will make a lot of money playing this game for a long time when he wasn’t supposed to, it was special to watch,” said Bill Self, Kansas coach. . “He deserves all the credit because there is no one who works like him.”
In his last season with the Jayhawks, Agbaji averaged 18.8 points with 47.5% from the field and 40.1% from 3 points with 5.1 rebounds, 1.6 assists and 1.6 balls. stolen.
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Kansas striker Ochai Agbaji
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