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Why the Cleveland Cavaliers need Cedi Osman to stay ready

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Injuries mount in Cleveland, creating urgency for viable playmakers.

NBA: Cleveland Cavaliers at Orlando Magic Reinhold Matay-USA TODAY Sports

The summer of 2018 certainly was not a happy time for Cavs fans. Cleveland had not only been swept in the NBA Finals by the Golden State Warriors — Cleveland had, once again, lost LeBron James.

While we all celebrated that familiar ache over our July 4 IPAs and corn on the cob, Cavs small forward Cedi Osman had offered quite possibly the best appreciation post ever written:

Whether it was that particular IG post or the “energy” that Osman claimed he and LeBron always shared, just weeks later, our favorite Turkish LeBron stan was again on Instagram — this time with a very interesting photo from UCLA on the Instagram account of former Cavs assistant Phil Handy. There — before our own bewildered eyes — stood a very sweaty Osman alongside LeBron, Kevin Durant and Kawhi Leonard.

“Something that I will never forget because I was able to work with the best small forwards in the world,” Osman beamed as the Cavs opened their 2018-19 season.

Now as we enter the 2020-21 season, one can’t help to ponder what Osman, who was paired with Durant during the star-studded workout, learned from his time working out with the elite of the elite.

Osman, now in his fourth season, was pivotal to the Cavs’ early success. After losing his potential starting spot to rookie standout Isaac Okoro, he found a place to make meaningful, game-changing contributions coming off the bench — knocking in a blazing 52.9% on three-pointers over the first three games.

Osman was doing so well, in fact, he earned the starting spot against the New York Knicks after Okoro went down to the ever-expanding graveyard of the Cavs wounded. After the team was handed their first loss of the season, it appeared there was not enough Botox in all of Avon Lake to release the wrinkle creases that formed in Coach J.B. Bickerstaff’s brow. Back to the bench Osman went, taking with him his clammy uneasiness, cringe-worthy air balls, and bizarre defensive rotations.

As the Cavs continue to succumb to exponential defeat, losing both Dante Exum and a ‘please-no-one-else get-hurt’ game in Orlando on Monday night, Osman is a player the Cavs desperately need to produce.

“Whatever’s the best for the team, I am ready to do,” said Osman after the team’s 3-0 start. “Despite my role, I know that I have to make those shots. I really do believe in myself and I have that confidence right now.”

With only 11 healthy players on the Cavs current roster, Osman will have to dig deep and find the energy and poise needed to consistently compete. He has shown flashes of spark, but nowhere near the level needed in his fluid yet expanding role on this Cavs team. And when Dante Exum went down on Monday, Osman stepped right in and played the bulk of the game. Come tonight, and beyond, there’s a good chance he’ll need to again.