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What we learned about the Cavs from Jan. 11 - 17

Andre Drummond dominates as the Cavs signal they’re likely moving in a different direction.

New York Knicks v Cleveland Cavaliers Photo by David Liam Kyle/NBAE via Getty Images

It was a memorable week for the Cavs off the court as general manager Koby Altman traded a future Milwaukee Bucks first round pick for Jarrett Allen and Taurean Prince. It wasn’t quite as exciting on the court as the Cavs went 1-2 while playing shorthanded for the second week in a row.

Here’s what we learned:

Cedi Osman continues his Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde act.

The Cavs benefited from the good version of Osman this week. The fourth-year player averaged 18.7 points, 5.0 assists, and 1.3 steals per game with a 55.2 effective field goal percentage in the three games this week. This included a 25-point performance on Friday night in a win over the Knicks.

The variance in Osman’s game remains unbelievably wide. He’s had five games this year where he’s had more field goal attempts than points. In those games he averaged 8.25 points while shooting 21.1% from the field. Conversely, Osman’s five best games saw him average 19.6 points on 41.5% shooting from distance. Cherry-picking five random games from any player is going to show variance, but this is a wide gap considering we’re only 13 games into the season.

The on or off nature of Osman’s game makes it difficult to judge was his ideal role is. It’s easy to pencil him in as a bench player who you play 25-plus minutes when he has the hot hand and stays around 10-15 minutes when he doesn’t. While that will most likely be his NBA role, it feels like it could/should be more. For the sake of this article, let’s say a good game for Cedi is putting up double digit scoring with a 50% true shooting percentage or better. Osman has accomplished this seven out of his 13 games this year. The frustrating thing is that he has more good games than bad games, but his bad games completely sink his team when he’s out there.

I don’t see a way Osman cracks the starting lineup long-term with how much the Cavs have invested in Isaac Okoro and Dylan Windler. However, that doesn’t mean he can’t be a starting caliber player. Whether that happens or not will depend on whether Cedi can still find a way to have a positive impact on the game even when his shot isn’t falling. That hasn’t been the case so far in his career.

Koby Altman has a plan

Altman once again flew under the radar as the Cavs were able to grab Jarrett Allen and Taurean Prince as part of the four-team James Harden trade. This trade shows that the Cavs are invested in making the Collin Sexton and Darius Garland backcourt work by putting a young, defensive minded center into the mix with Jarrett Allen. It also signals that Andre Drummond is probably not a part of the Cavs’ future.

The Cavs have started to transition out of the asset accumulation/best available player portion of the rebuild and are entering the building around the talent on the roster stage. This move shows that they believe in who they have on the roster and that they can work together. If they didn’t believe that, I don’t think they would give up a first round pick no matter how low it may become.

Altman’s vision is becoming clearer as the Cavs have four of their five starters of the future with Sexton, Garland, Okoro, and now Allen. Hopefully we get a glimpse of what that foundation looks like soon as Sexton and Garland should return from injury shortly.

Andre Drummond can be dominant

Drummond had a monster week. The big man has averaged 25 points, 19 boards, 1.5 steals, and 1.3 blocks on 49.4% shooting from the floor in his last four games. Drummond also produced one of the best single games in Cavs history for a center on Friday night as he put up 33 points, 23 boards, 3 assists, 2 steals, and 2 blocks in a win over the Knicks. Drummond has been no short of dominant on both ends during this recent stretch.

Cleveland has also played their best basketball this season when Drummond is on the floor. The Cavs have a -2.0 net rating when Drummond is on the floor and a -8.3 net rating when he’s on the bench. The Cavaliers have been 6 points per 100 possessions better with Drummond on the floor. That is the best differential on the team for players who have played more than half of the games this season.

Big men can take longer to mature than we often like to admit. Having a dominant physical skillset doesn’t consistently get the job done. It takes a while for centers to learn how to use their body, how to get high percentage shots, and how to position themselves on offense and defense. We could be seeing Drummond beginning to put it all together.

Drummond doesn’t appear to be in the Cavs’ long-term plans after the Allen trade. He is five years older than Allen and doesn’t fit as cleanly into the young core’s timeline.

But Drummond has been the best player this season and is one of the biggest reason the Cavs aren’t buried in the standings like they probably should be considering the injuries. Whatever team ends up with Drummond on his next contract will probably be getting one of the best centers in the league. I believe his best play is still in front of him.