Here's the moment Ochai Agbaji heard his name called at the NBA Draft. All-American. National Champion. Lottery Pick. Not bad for a redshirt. pic.twitter.com/0mBakMQMUZ
— Sully Engels (@sullyengels) June 24, 2022
As a man who has been blessed with ample athleticism, shooting ability and the tools to lock people down defensively, Agbaji seems to be just the player the Cavs need to take the next step and return to the playoffs, not to mention add to their promising future core.
Of course, not all draft picks pan out, and actually, quite a few of them don’t really fulfill their expectations, which means the Cavs fans shouldn’t automatically expect Agbaji to achieve his best-case scenario.
But he does seem to have lots of potential as a key piece for a team that could contend for the NBA championship several years from now, which begs the question: What are realistic expectations for Agbaji?
Garland averaged 21.7 points a game this season in making his first All-Star game, and Mobley flashed his skillset and potential in putting up 15.0 points a contest as a rookie.
Perhaps Agbaji won’t ever have to become a legitimate scoring threat, but he may be able to.
He recorded 18.8 points per game this year as a senior, and for helping to lead the Jayhawks to the NCAA National Championship, he was named the Most Outstanding Player of the NCAA Tournament.
Initially, he looked like merely a 3-and-D player, but this year, he showed some ability to create and hit his own shot off the dribble.
Ochai Agbaji: Remember the Name pic.twitter.com/LrBjWwtXqo
— Kansas Men’s Basketball (@KUHoops) June 20, 2022
But make no mistake, his biggest strength offensively is his 3-point shooting, as he made 40.7 percent of his attempts from beyond the arc this year.
Agbaji had plenty of hops, making him an adept threat to throw down dunks on the fast break and off backdoor lobs.
The question seems to be whether his ability to create off the dribble in college will translate to the NBA.
Agbaji’s defensive stats aren’t impressive, as he doesn’t get a ton of steals or blocked shots, but he is thought to have the potential to be a lockdown defender.
He has an impressive 6-foot-10 wingspan, and when playing D on the perimeter, he can switch and defend players at multiple positions.
The Cavs were already a very good defensive team this year, ranking seventh in defensive rating, and Agbaji can make them even better.
Cleveland seriously needs more production from the wing spot, and with the sheer number of wing superstars in the Eastern Conference, including Kevin Durant, Jayson Tatum, Giannis Antetokounmpo and Jimmy Butler, the team needs someone who can contain such men.
Agbaji just may have the qualities to do just that.
At least for now, a reasonable expectation for him would be to become a reliable 3-and-D player, but it wouldn’t be too surprising if he becomes a little more than that within three to five years.