CLEVELAND, Ohio – The Cleveland Cavaliers entered the off-season with plans to add more shooting.
He made the first move Thursday night, selecting Kansas sharpshooter Ochai Agbaji as the No. 14 pick in the 2022 NBA Draft. Despite several trading rumors involving the Cavs’ first-round pick, sources tell cleveland.com that the Cavaliers have no plans to trade the 6-foot-5 swingman.
“I just want to thank the organization and Cleveland for drafting me, believing in me,” Agazi told Barclay Center in Brooklyn on Thursday night. “I am going to give you 110 percent and a positive attitude every day. I am going to be a hard worker. Come in, be humble and represent my city well.”
With other potential targets Ousmane Dieng and Jalen Williams facing some challenges before the Oklahoma City Thunder, the Cavs chose Agazi, which is supposed to have a ready, plug-and-play 3-and-D wing.
He targeted Agaji during the pre-draft process because of his elite shooting, which sets him apart from any other player on the roster currently. Cavs had seen the man stroke a few weeks ago during his group workout on a Cleveland Clinic court. He also checks other boxes that Cleveland values—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 offensive ratings and made 3s. He finished only 22nd in three-point attempts and 15th in percentage.
Agazi, who finished fourth in school history in 3s (250), should help. He averaged 1.27 points per catch and shoot jumper, which was in the 94th percentile. He also showed the ability to easily rise off the screen and dribble hands. To complement his accomplished outside game, Aghazi used his power and athleticism when he had a clear path to the rim, averaging 1.45 points per shot around the rim at the halfcourt (94th percentile).
Continually improving each year in Kansas, Agazi announced for the 2021 NBA Draft, participated in the Alliance, received feedback about his draft status, took it to heart, and returned to Kansas for his senior campaign. There were high hopes for Agabji when he returned. He surpassed them all, taking Big 12 Player of the Year honors, was named a consensus First-team All-American and led the Jayhawks to their first NCAA championship since 2008. He capped his impossible star turn with the most outstanding player in the NCAA. last four.
That exceptional senior year elevated Agaji – a finalist of the 2021-22 Naismith Trophy, Wooden Award and Jerry West Shooting Guard of the Year Award – from second-round pick to the lottery.
“It was special to see the natural progression that has happened and to see him as someone who is going to make a lot of money playing this game for a long time when he didn’t anticipate doing it,” Said Kansas coach Bill Self. “He deserves all the credit because there is no one to do the job like him.”
In his final season with the Jayhawks, Agaji averaged 18.8 points at 47.5% off the field and 40.1% from 3-point range with 5.1 rebounds, 1.6 assists and 1.6 steals.
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Kansas forward Ochai Agbajik
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