By Matt Dykstra | March 19, 2018

Okaro White, an NBA G League All-Star selection during the 2016-17 season, has now fully recovered from his foot injury and is ready to give the NBA a second shot. After appearing in 23 games for Sioux Falls, averaging 18.4 points, 8.7 rebounds and 1.1 steals per game, Okaro White was called up by the Miami HEAT on January 17, 2017.

White became one of the key components to a historic HEAT run, which saw the club go 30-11 to end the season to finish the year with a .500 record, narrowly missing the playoffs in the Eastern Conference. White wasn’t just your average 10-day contract. Soon after joining the HEAT, he became an impact player off the bench, which came to the forefront in a comeback win over the Brooklyn Nets on January 25, 2017.

White tallied 10 points, seven rebounds, and four blocks that game, including a three-pointer from the corner that put the HEAT up 102-101 with under a minute left to play. It was at that point, White knew he could be a difference-maker in the NBA.

“The first Brooklyn game I played. We were down big going into the fourth quarter,” said White. “We fought relentlessly and I hit a couple of big shots. A big three put us ahead. After that game and the way we fought to come back… I think that was a point where I was like, ‘okay, I can play in this league as long as I keep working hard, and doing everything I can control.”

In total, White appeared in 41 games for the HEAT, including four starts in six games prior to injury this season. He averaged 2.9 points and 2.3 rebounds in just over 13 minutes played. A broken left foot after just six games this season halted what was shaping up to be a breakout campaign, and on February 8, 2018 the HEAT traded White to the Atlanta Hawks in exchange for Luke Babbitt. The Hawks placed White on waivers that day.

Now fully recovered, White is getting a second chance. This time, in Cleveland.

White, who played internationally before passing through Sioux Falls on his way to the NBA, will get another shot at realizing his full potential for a team that could use some depth and defensive versatility. There’s no question that when called upon, White will step up. He’s carved out a role as a lock-down defender in a short period of time, and if one thing is for sure, the Cavaliers will receive maximum effort from White the moment he walks in the door.

“It’s all about who wants it more, you know? It’s a battle. It’s a competitive battle,” said White. “The route I took to eventually get here, I’ve been grateful for, but I’ve learned a lot of things on the way. In my eyes, it’s a mindset of asking, ‘do you want to stay in this league?’ or, ‘do you want to continue to have a job?’ It doesn’t matter who it is. There’s great players in the league. Some of the greatest players in the world. I just feel like it’s a mindset. You’re definitely not going to lock down Kevin Durant or guys like that for a whole game, but the big thing is effort. You always want to give effort. You never want your coach to have to coach effort.”