When it was announced that Cedi Osman would come over and join the Cleveland Cavaliers, the news was met with high hopes and low expectations.
Osman had impressed in his past appearances in international play, and in the 2017 Eurobasket he gave Cavs fans a taste of what he can do.
Accumulating 28 points, seven rebounds, seven steals and four assists against Russia, imaginations ran wild with what he could bring to the Cavs.
It was clear in international play that Osman’s skill set wasn’t best suited for a role as a number one option. In fact, his understanding of his role and maturity as a player was one of the biggest strengths people mentioned as he transitioned to the NBA.
Osman delivered on that promise in his rookie season, showing an understanding of what he can and can’t do, poise and infectious energy. On a older and frequently grumpy team, his enthusiasm and effort stuck out.
According to basketball reference, the Cavs offensive rating was 2.3 points better with Osman on the court, and the defensive rating improved by 1.1 points with him. NBA tracking data also indicates that opponents shot 2.3 percent worse than expected with Osman defending them.
These metrics are far from flawless, but it lends something tangible to the eye test and adjectives that are usually given to white NBA players that play with energy.
With Osman on the court, the intensity from the team picked up. It was undeniable and something that was evident throughout the season.
When the Cavs needed him to step up in the starting lineup, Osman was ready. He averaged 9.2 points, 3.5 rebounds, and two assists in his 12 starts with the Cavs. While he was less efficient in those minutes than as a reserve, he still shot 46.6 percent from the field and 37.2 percent from deep.
At the very least, Osman has established himself as an NBA role player. His understanding of the game and the floor of his skill set will guarantee him a spot on an NBA roster for the foreseeable future.
It’ll be interesting to see what growth we see from Osman heading into next season. His outside shot was better than most hoped for this year, and will likely continue to be a point of emphasis. Added strength from working with NBA trainers would also go a long way towards his development.
Cleveland wasn’t able to acquire or keep many long term assets over the last four seasons. But getting Osman in the second round and waiting for him to come over appears to be one of those rare steals that great teams need to sustain their success.
The only real disappointing aspect of Osman’s rookie season was that the team didn’t go back to him down the stretch. Tyronn Lue obviously had trepidation about playing a rookie in the playoffs. However, at no point in the season did Osman have any of the disastrous stretches of play that we saw from Jordan Clarkson, J.R. Smtih or Rodney Hood at times.
To make matters more confusing, the explanation for why the team moved Dwyane Wade was to make more room for Osman in the rotation. With a lack of reliable contributors in the supporting cast, not even trying to play Osman was a disappointing development.
While the NBA is a star driven league, it’s almost as hard to find players that understand their role and do the dirty work. Osman has all the tools to become a versatile three-and-d wing that fills in wherever the team needs him. With or without LeBron James, that’s a valuable asset for the team moving forward.