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Some guys are box-score players. You notice they’re on the court, but that’s about it. Then you look at the box score, only to see they finished with something like 15 points and nine rebounds.
Cavaliers swingman Cedi Osman will never be confused with that type of guy.
When Osman is on the floor, you know it, the rest of the Cavaliers know it, the opponent knows it. He is seemingly involved in every play. He hustles, he scraps, he has better-than-serviceable skills.
Cavs coach Tyronn Lue has already said when Osman and Rodney Hood are on the floor together, which could be a lot this season, Osman will defend the opposing team’s biggest wing threat. Knowing Osman means knowing he will cherish the challenge.
Why? Because that’s just Osman.
In just his second NBA season, his presence is already being felt in the Cavaliers’ locker room and on the floor.
“Cedi plays basketball and he lives with joy,” Cavs sharpshooting veteran Kyle Korver said. “It’s contagious, it’s magnetic.”
Magnetic? Well, it sure seems that way. Osman somehow spent a day this summer working out with LeBron James, Kevin Durant and Kawhi Leonard at UCLA.
It was pro basketball’s holy trinity of small forwards … and Osman.
“I was nervous,” Osman said. “[Durant] was telling me, ‘Shoot up, shoot up’ and I was like ‘I can’t right now’ because I was pretty excited.”
Osman sounded like a fan who won a trip to one of those fantasy camps where he got to learn from the stars. That’s probably because every day seems to be that way for Osman.
“He loves basketball; he loves playing in the NBA,” Korver said, smiling widely.
FINDING HIS WAY
Osman, 23, is 6-foot-8 and a native of Turkey. Former Cavs general manager David Griffin landed Osman in a draft-night trade with the Minnesota Timberwolves back in 2015.
The Cavs swapped point guard Tyus Jones, fresh off an NCAA championship at Duke, for the unknown Osman. The media and fans mostly chuckled and groaned. Everyone knew Jones. Osman was playing overseas. No one had heard of him.
Osman stayed overseas and no one much cared. The Cavs were competing for championships with a veteran roster. When Osman finally showed up before the start of last season, the Cavs figured he’d spend the majority of time playing in the G-League.
Osman wouldn’t allow that to happen. Not because he has some chip on his shoulder or cocky swagger or wanted to prove everybody wrong. He simply kept competing, kept displaying a pure joy for the game, kept wanting to improve. He was relentless.
It was a small sample size, but most everyone liked what they saw last season. Osman played hard, played smart and was willing to bend his knees, shuffle his feet and really defend.
The work continued this past offseason, with Osman setting his sights on improving his perimeter shooting. He was considered more of a slasher-type his rookie year. So Osman started working out with Korver. Looking at early returns, it seems to have done the trick. Osman appears to be a more confident and effective jump shooter.
“He has great potential,” Lue said. “I think you saw that last year when he had his chance to play consistent minutes.”
With James gone, Osman will be thrust into an important role. He’ll be expected to help keep the ball moving, create some offense and defend and scrap and do it all some more.
The Cavs feel as if none of the above will be a problem. After all, this is Osman we’re talking about.
“He lives a good life,” Korver said, still smiling. “A good, hardworking life.”