CLEVELAND, Ohio — The Cleveland Cavaliers entered the offseason with a plan to add more shots.
They made the first move Thursday night, selecting Kansas sniper Ochai Agbaji with the No. 14 pick in the 2022 NBA Draft. Despite numerous trade rumors involving the Cavs’ first-round pick, sources tell cleveland.com the Cavaliers have no plans to trade the 6-foot-5 swingman.
“I just want to thank the organization and Cleveland for drafting me, for believing in me,” Agbaji said Thursday night from Barclay’s Center in Brooklyn. “I will give you 110% every day and a positive attitude. I will be a hard worker. Come in, be humble and represent my city well.
With other potential targets Ousmane Dieng and Jalen Williams a few picks ahead of the Oklahoma City Thunder, the Cavs went with Agbaji, who was seen as a ready-to-go 3-and-D wing.
They targeted Agbaji throughout the pre-draft process due to his marksmanship, which separates him from any other player currently on the roster. The Cavs saw this stroke in person during his group practice at Cleveland Clinic Courts a few weeks ago. It 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 ranked 20th in offensive rating and went 3s. They ranked just 22nd in 3-point attempts and 15th in percentage.
Agbaji, who ranks fourth in school history in three (250), should help with that. He averaged 1.27 points per jumper caught and shot, which ranked in the 94th percentile. He has also shown an ability to smoothly get up from screens and dribble hands. Complementing his accomplished outside game, Agbaji used his power and athleticism when he had a clear path to the edge, averaging 1.45 points per shot around the edge in the half court (94th percentile).
Making steady improvements every year at Kansas, Agbaji declared for the 2021 NBA Draft, attended the combine, received feedback on his draft positioning, took it to heart, and returned to the Kansas for its senior campaign. There were high expectations for Agabji upon his return. He topped them all, earning Big 12 Player of the Year honors, being named a consensus First-Team All-American and leading the Jayhawks to their first NCAA championship since 2008. He capped off his unlikely star turn with the player. most outstanding in the NCAA. Final square.
This outstanding senior year has elevated Agbaji – finalist for the 2021-22 Naismith Trophy, Wooden Award and Jerry West Shooting Guard of the Year Award – from second-round pick to the lottery.
“To see the natural progression that’s happened and to see him be a guy who’s going to make a lot of money playing this game for a long time when he wasn’t planning on it was special to watch. “said Kansas coach Bill Self. “He deserves all the credit because there is no one who works like him.”
In his final season with the Jayhawks, Agbaji averaged 18.8 points on 47.5 percent from the field and 40.1 percent from 3-point range to go with 5.1 rebounds, 1.6 assists and 1.6 interceptions.
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Kansas forward Ochai Agbaji
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