After playing professionally in Turkey since the age of 16, Cedi Osman was selected with the first pick of the second round in the 2015 NBA Draft by the Minnesota Timberwolves, and his rights were immediately traded to the Cleveland Cavaliers.
In 2017, he came over to the U.S. from Europe, and despite playing sparingly during his rookie season, quickly became a fan favorite. He became a full-time starter in 2018 and played well in his new role.
Although Tornonto’s Pascal Siakam probably has the Most Improved Player Award locked up, Osman should be somewhere in that discussion. His increase in playing time led to an increase in numbers across the board, as would be expected.
2017: 11.0 minutes per game, 3.9 points, 2.0 rebounds, 0.7 assists, 0.4 steals, 48% FG, 37% 3PT
2018: 32.2 minutes per game, 13.0 points, 4.7 rebounds, 2.6 assists, 0.8 steals, 43% FG, 35% 3PT
Osman’s shooting wasn’t as good last season as it was in 2017-2018, but hopefully that will improve as he settles into being the staring small forward (unless he is replaced in the starting lineup by a certain top draft prospect…). His advanced stats are encouraging however; his assist rate increased from 8.7% to 12.1%, and his turnover rate dropped from 13.4% to 11.7%, while his usage rate went from 15.7% to 18.6%. When watching Osman, it’s clear he has far to go in his development, but he is quite a cerebral player. He sees the floor well and usually takes high-percentage shots.
There are three main areas where Cedi Osman should focus on improving; his defense, his passing, and his three-point shooting. He’s never going to become an All-NBA defender, but if he can be even slightly above-average on the defensive end, that will do wonders for his game. He has shown the ability to step into passing lanes and disrupt the flow of a team’s ball movement, but his spatial and awareness and on-ball defense must get better.
The next two go hand-in-hand. Osman is a solid passer at this point, but because he’s not a dynamic scorer at this point, you’d like to see his assist rate in the 15%-25% range. He will have more opportunities to hit open teammates if he can improve his three-point shooting. Knocking down his triples is of course extremely important, but taking them in the first place is also key.
Osman’s percentage of shots taken from beyond the arc actually dropped last season, so that’s something that will need to be addressed, especially since he will need to be more of a catch-and-shoot threat, no matter who the Cavaliers draft next month.
Perhaps Cleveland’s next coach will implement a better offensive system that will allow Osman to rack up more assists. Most successful teams in today’s game play their offense around ball movement, three-point shots, and shots from the paint. It’s all about the percentages, and hopefully the Cavs’ next coach realizes this and schemes accordingly.
Cedi Osman can play either shooting guard or small forward, and depending on the type of lineup that the Cavaliers ran out, he played quite a bit of both last season. It doesn’t matter which position the rookie will play, Osman will still be one of Cleveland’s five best players and will start in 2019-2020.
At just 24 years old, Osman will be a member of the Cavs’ core for many years to come. He will play the final year of his rookie contract next season, so it will be interesting to see how his group and the Cavaliers decide to go about negotiating an extension. Cleveland would obviously like to get a deal done as soon as possible, in the hopes of locking up Osman long-term, before he improves even more and would demand more money.
Osman’s camp may want to wait until a majority of the season plays out, banking on Osman’s stats building off last year’s. Of course, that approach carries risk, as there is always the chance that Osman is injured or plays poorly, which would decrease his value.
Off the court, Osman is popular with both the fans and the locker room, and still has a close relationship with LeBron James. Osman has an infectious positive attitude and is a high-effort player, which Cleveland seems to have a lot of. He is the kind of role player with potential that every team loves to have, and should be a valuable member of the rotation for the Cavaliers’ next playoff appearance.