Roster fit determines success and failure for many NBA players. The majority of players need to be in the right situation to succeed, especially if they are younger. Highly skilled players can overcome their on-court fit to produce great individual results no matter their circumstances. A good example of this in Cleveland would by Kyrie Irving’s individual success from 2012 to 2014. However, that is the exception and not the norm.
It’s hard to think of a worse fit in the league than Cedi Osman the last two season. Osman was asked to fill a LeBron James size void in the roster. To no one’s surprise, he wasn’t able to do that.
The worst part about Osman’s fit the last two seasons has been the lack of NBA level wings around him. The 2018-19 team was a weird holdover roster that was built around LeBron. Because of that, there was a lack of wing depth which made Osman the only real wing on the team. This forced Osman to guard the opponent’s best wing night in and night out while being one of the only perimeter offensive threats. The results were as you’d expect.
The Cavs addressed that problem last season by drafting Dylan Windler and Kevin Porter Jr. Windler, unfortunately, missed the entire season and Porter was used more as a two-guard. This meant that Osman was still in the same position he was in during the previous season.
That should change with Windler and Isaac Okoro being in the rotation. The Cavs should finally be able to put Osman in a position to succeed for the first time in his NBA career now that there are other options at the wing.
What last season was like
Osman didn’t have the season he was hoping for last year. Many were expecting him to take a leap in his second season as a starter, but that wasn’t the case. Osman averaged 11.0 points per game, which was two less than the previous season, and 2.4 assists with a 55.2 true shooting percentage.
Osman didn’t look comfortable on either end of the floor last season. He struggled to fit-in alongside the Darius Garland and Collin Sexton backcourt. This often left him as the forgotten man on offense. Unfortunately, he didn’t make the most of the opportunities he was given.
The same could be said about his defense. Osman shouldn’t be guarding the other team’s best wings on a nightly basis, but that is the role he was placed in. His usefulness as a high energy player was nullified by being overmatched by more athletic wings.
With that said, Osman’s outside shooting was a bright spot. He shot a good 38.3% on 8.2 attempts per game and looked much more comfortable on catch and shoot and pull-up threes. Hopefully, he can build on that success this season.
What his role could look like
For the first time in two years, Osman won’t be the guaranteed opening day starter. While there’s still a good chance he starts on opening day it’ll be only a matter of time until Isaac Okoro takes his spot. The rookie might not be as good as Osman is at this point, but Okoro provides defense and physicality that the starting lineup desperately needs.
My guess would be that Osman spends most of the season in a bench unit led by Porter and Larry Nance Jr. which should suit him nicely. His skills and energy will be better served in that role. Most importantly, it’ll be nice to see what he can do when he isn’t guarding the other team’s best offensive threat.
One thing that stands out about Cedi’s international play is how often and effectively he gets to the basket. While the skill level is higher in the NBA, getting to the basket more is something that I would like to see him improve on this season.
The two stats that I’d keep an eye on is field goal percentage in the restricted area and free throw rate. Osman’s finished just 60.4% of his attempts at the rim last season. Cedi’s free throw rate was also down significantly last season as he finished 2018-19 with a .214 free throw rate but had a .154 free throw rate in 2019-20.
Osman will need to get to the basket and get to the line to be the best version of himself. We’ll see if this is something that he can improve on this season.
I believe this will be the best season of Cedi’s career to date. Osman has been forced to play out of position for the last two seasons. Being able to transition to a better role for his skillset and size should allow him to showcase his skills. A reduced role probably won’t lead to having better counting stats, but he should make a more positive impact on the game.