CLEVELAND, Ohio – The Cleveland Cavaliers began the season with plans to add more shooting.
They took the first step on Thursday night by choosing Kansas precision hunter Ochai Agbaji as the 14th choice in the 2022 NBA draft. Despite numerous rumors surrounding Cavs’ first-round selection, sources tell cleveland.com that Cavaliers has no plans to replace the 6-foot swingman.
“I want to thank the organization and Cleveland for compiling me and believing in me,” Agbaji said of the Barclay Center in Brooklyn on Thursday night. “I give you 110 percent and a positive attitude every day. I’m going to be a tough guy. Come in, be humble and represent my city well.
As the other potential targets, Ousmane Dieng and Jalen Williams, chose a few times before the Oklahoma City Thunder, Cavs chose Agbaji, which was considered ready, as a plug-and-play 3-and-D wing.
They targeted Agbaj throughout the pre-draft process because of his elite shooting, which sets him apart from all the other players on the list. Cavs saw the stroke in person during his group training at Cleveland Clinic Court a few weeks ago. He also controls other squares that Cleveland values - character, stylistic fitness, sportiness, versatility and work ethic.
Despite winning 44 games last season, doubling last year’s total, the Cavs were ranked 20th in the offensive rankings, reaching 3rd with only 3 points and 15th in percentage points.
“The shooting was important,” said Koby Altman, president of basketball operations. “That he can play on the edge, that he can defend the edge is great. I don’t know if it went as far as the need to shoot. I don’t want to lift him to the pedestal and say, ‘This is the next great wing we’ve got.’ “But maybe it is. I know he ‘s meeting the need right away and he’ s going to compete, and he has a victorious pedigree that we really like.
Agbaji, who is in fourth place in the history of made 3s (250) in school history, should help. He averaged 1.27 points per capture and shooting jumper in the 94th percentile. He also showed the ability to get up smoothly from the screen and drip off his hands. Complementing his successful international game, Agbaji used his strength and athleticism when he had a clear path to the edge, throwing an average of 1.45 points for each stroke (94th percentile).
Agbaji made steady progress in Kansas each year to participate in the 2021 NBA draft, participated in the combine, received feedback on his draft position, took it to heart and returned to Kansas for his senior campaign. There were high expectations for Agabji when he returned. He surpassed them all, winning the title of Best Player of the Year in 12 Years, unanimously nominating him to the American team and leading Jayhawk to their first NCAA title since 2008. He ended his unlikely streak with the title of NCAA’s Most Outstanding Player. Final Four.
This extraordinary senior year took Agbaji – the finalist of the 2021–2022 Naismith Trophy, the Wooden Award and the Jerry West Shooter of the Year Award – to the second round of the draw.
“It’s been a special look to see the natural evolution that has taken place and to see that he’s going to make a lot of money playing this game for a long time if he didn’t have to,” he said. Kansas coach Bill Self. “He deserves all the credit because no one works like him.”
Last season in Jayhawks, Agbaji scored an average of 18.8 points, 47.5% of the game and 40.1% of the three-point throw, taking 5.1 rebounds, 1.6 assists and 1.6 innings.
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