• Welcome back Hoop Ballers to our International Spotlight weekly feature where we break down the game of young prospects from around the league!

    Back in 2015, the Cavs traded away their No. 24 pick for a couple picks in the second round. The deal had the Wolves trading their No. 31 and No. 36 picks (Cedi Osman and Rakeem Christmas, respectively) to Cleveland for the draft rights of Minnesota-raised Tyus Jones. While it’s easy to make the case for Jones being the better player in that deal, the Cavs at the time were almost capped out heading for a championship run and the wise move was to stash an international prospect rather than having to spend guaranteed money on a first round pick. Cedi Osman definitely didn’t have the name recognition of Kristaps Porzingis and Mario Hezonja who went ahead of him early in the first round. But just before the draft, he had already made it known to teams that he was planning on playing in Europe for at least another couple seasons positioning himself as an ideal draft and stash pick.

    Coming out of the U20 European championship where he earned MVP honors, after averaging 13.7 points, 4.1 rebounds and 2.5 assists, leading Turkey to the gold medal, he was considered one of the most polished international players available. Osman built a strong relationship with Cavaliers’ former general manager David Griffin. “He’s about all the right things,” Griffin said. “He’s a Tristan Thompson of a swingman mold.” Though Griffin was eventually replaced by Koby Altman the current front office regime was also invested in Osman, opting this summer to sign him, instead of Jamal Crawford, with a portion of their mid-level exception while also paying $700,000 for his buyout. After the Cavs added Dwyane Wade late in the offseason his future was put in jeopardy but the Cavs turned down multiple trade offers for him and eventually decided to waive veteran forward Richard Jefferson to free up a roster spot. So what do they really see in him?

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    Staying overseas for the last couple seasons, Osman had the opportunity to play solid minutes with Turkish powerhouse Anadolu Efes under legendary coach Dušan Ivković. His maturity and basketball IQ really evolved, as the team put the ball in his hands and Osman often played as a point forward thanks to his handle and passing skills. He came into the league this summer as a raw offensive prospect with defensive upside and solid athleticism. And if this was last season, the team would have used him out of necessity but the Cavs are stacked this year and the goal is to simply figure out what they have in him and put a lot of work in his development. Back in July, when the Cavs signed Osman, Tyronn Lue was asked if he had watched any film of him. Lue’s reply was simply “nope.”

    A threat in the open court but a streaky shooter

    Standing at 6’8”, Osman has good size with legit wingspan and a solid body structure which could be easily bulked up. He has a remarkable combination of speed and athleticism which makes him really effective in the transition game where he scores many of his points. He is another athlete who loves attacking the rim in one-on-one situations and can exploit screens during pick-and-roll action. The main reason Griffin was persistent on getting Osman to cross the Atlantic was that, overall, his game fits the mold of NBA basketball.  “Here in the NBA they play a lot of fast basketball,” said the rookie. “Overseas it’s not like that. It’s more halfcourt plays and stuff. But here always running, fastbreak points, easy points. That’s not a problem for me. Overseas I was playing like this all the time. I’m the guy with a lot of energy and the guy who likes to run the floor all the time.”

    Playing for the oldest team in the NBA, Osman is a nice addition that brings something different to the table as he’s able to run the court relentlessly. His teammates are savvy enough to recognize that and they will always look for him in fast break opportunities.

    Tyronn Lue has been using his rookie as the primary attacker in a small-ball lineup with Channing Frye, Jeff Green, Kyle Korver and Dwyane Wade. Osman can be effective in catch and shoot situations as he possesses deep three point range but he needs to improve his mechanics and fix his pull-up jumper. Fluidity and quick release are not there yet but defenders don’t have the full scouting report on him and give him plenty of space.

    A closer look at his shot mechanics shows that he fails to bend his knees while the end of his release has a sudden burst. While he has shot 8-of-20 from behind the line this year I’m inclined to say that his jumper is suspect at best and improving this part of his game will be very important if he really wants to reach his full potential. Simply put, it’s unlikely at this point that he can score effectively in other ways at the NBA level.

    Fearless competitor but a weak body frame

    Osman most likely won’t be a contributor during the Cavs’ ring chase this year but he fits the need for an energetic player that can hit the three and defend the wing. He is very active around the rim and hustles, a skill that cannot be underestimated. After Iman Shumpert went down with surgery on his left knee,  coach Tyronn Lue had to turn to his rookie for some wing depth and the results have been encouraging.  “The biggest thing about Cedi is he’s not scared and I like that about him,” Lue said. “He’s going to make some mistakes, but that’s part of being young and being a rookie. But he’s going to compete and he’s not scared.

    Defensively he’s able to guard multiple positions, giving his team great flexibility while his length helps deflect passes and cover the passing lanes. Osman is very active and will cause turnovers due to his intensity level on the other side of the floor. Here is a great sequence where the rookie intercepts a lazy pass by DeAndre’ Bembry which leads to a corner three in the fast break that follows.

    Osman is also a strong defensive rebounder who will frequently crash the glass thanks to his size and wingspan. His 7.6 rebounds per 36 minutes show the type of elite rebounder he can be even though he plays mostly in the perimeter. The Turkish product has also shown intriguing athletic skills even by NBA standards, with some amazing blocks in help defense during transition.

    Since he won’t be playing a lot this year, Osman needs to spend a lot of his time in the gym in order to improve his muscular structure. The small sample size so far has shown that he tends to be affected by contact when attacking the basket. He is not physically ready to play against the elite small forwards in the league and he gets beaten by smaller and below average defenders like Marco Belinelli who is able to strip the ball off him in this play.

    Struggles to create his own shot and doesn’t get to the foul line

    Even while in Europe, Osman has never been a high usage player and he turns the ball over way too often compared to his small role but I don’t see this attribute as a negative part of his resume. His game is based on instinct and creativity which along with his high basketball IQ gives him strong role-player potential for many years to come. Cedi has been well coached in his entire career and seems to understand his limitations very well so I’m optimistic that his decision making will only get better with more practice and playing time. He has played some point guard growing up, especially with his national team, so I do expect his playmaking and court vision to be utilized from his coaches. The truth of the matter is that he is the guy who you want to have the ball in his hands because not only is he an excellent slasher who can finish with either hand but he has also shown real potential as a point forward. The only problem is he won’t be doing this much this year unless it’s garbage time.

    Approximately 75 percent of his shots this year have come up from either the 3-point line or in the paint which shows how he is being used only as an off ball guard. I cannot see this changing in the current environment and even though his ballhandling skills are solid it’s expected that he will have a hard time against NBA size and speed. Look at a silly turnover he commits against the Pistons while trying to be aggressive driving to the basket.

    How long until he becomes a rotation player?

    After losing LeBron James for literally nothing back in 2010, the Cavs have learned their lesson. The team is now focusing on developing their young talent instead of simply competing for rings while sacrificing their long term longevity. Their sharp moves have enabled them to be loaded with Cedi Osman, Ante Zizic and an extremely valuable first round pick from Brooklyn this summer. The rookie definitely lacks the necessary confidence and is still learning how to adjust to the NBA level and fit in with a Cleveland team loaded with veterans with not much patience but this was expected. And for those that believe in Osman’s potential, the Cavs are making the right move because they’re choosing to develop a prospect that has the talent to be a rotation player on a championship-contending team sooner than later.

    Hope you enjoyed reading this article and don’t forget to let us know about an international prospect that you would want to learn more about in the next few weeks.

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