David Liam Kyle/Getty Images
Outside of Cleveland and his native Turkey, Cedi Osman is not a household name.
As a rookie with the Cavaliers last season, Osman averaged just 11 minutes per game on a team full of veterans with a championship-or-bust mission. By playoff time, he had fallen out of head coach Tyronn Lue’s rotation altogether.
Despite his lack of opportunity, there was a quiet buzz beginning to build. At 22, he wasn’t a typical rookie, having played professionally since he was 16 for the Turkish national team. The veterans on this Cavs team, especially LeBron James and Jeff Green, embraced Osman, and he quickly became the first off the bench to greet and embrace James on many big occasions.
His infectious smile and energy breathed life into an old, dusty Cavs locker room at times, and Osman transformed from a “hustle guy” to a solid overall player just waiting for his turn.
Now, that turn has come.
When the Cavaliers take the court this fall, there will be no James to congratulate coming off the court. No Green to serve as a mentor and share a corner of the locker room with.
Building off the last few months that saw him dominate summer league; share private workouts with James, Kevin Durant and Kawhi Leonard; and now help lead the Turkish national team to a 5-2 record in the world cup Euro Qualifiers, Osman is primed to step into a major role for the Cavs.
Filling the King’s Shoes
When James first departed Northeast Ohio in 2010, Cleveland had no one remotely capable of filling his minutes.
The Cavaliers used six different players at small forward that season, a blend of past-their-“prime” veterans in Anthony Parker, Joey Graham and Jamario Moon and raw, low-upside guys like Alonzo Gee, Christian Eyenga and Jawad Williams.
The bar is low, but Osman is already comfortably the best of this group.
At 6’8″ and 215 pounds, he has an ideal small forward build and has shown the ability to play and defend multiple positions. He spent 27 percent of his court time as a rookie between both shooting guard and power forward. Lue often tasked Osman with defending opposing point guards, demonstrating his trust in him and having few other options.
Jason Miller/Getty Images
Going into the 2018-19 season, there’s not only a chance Osman could take James’ starting small forward spot, but it would be a mistake if he didn’t get it.
Lue’s options are to use either Osman or Rodney Hood or go