2019-20 has provided clarity regarding Cedi Osman for Cavs

Cleveland Cavaliers wing Cedi Osman talks with Cleveland head coach J.B. Bickerstaff in-game. (Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images)
Cleveland Cavaliers wing Cedi Osman talks with Cleveland head coach J.B. Bickerstaff in-game. (Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images) /

The 2019-20 campaign has provided a sense of clarity for the Cleveland Cavaliers when it comes to Cedi Osman.

Coming into this season, I thought Cedi Osman would be able to continue on an upward trajectory, and I believed that he should be the starting 3 for the Cleveland Cavaliers in coming years. I understand Kevin Love not being healthy for most of last season played into it, but Osman clearly showed plenty of growth in 2018-19 in his first year as a full-time starter.

Osman again had a bigger workload than he’s had this season, of which Love has been mostly healthy thus far, but Osman did have 13.0 points, 4.7 rebounds and 2.6 assists per game in 2018-19, per Basketball Reference. He again showed growth and displayed secondary playmaking ability, some pick-and-roll creation and did hit a respectable 34.8 percent of his three-point attempts.

Throughout the 2019-20 season to this point, though, Osman has not had nearly the same impact. While Love being mostly active has played into that significantly and Osman being more relegated to a spot-up role has, he’s still in large part underwhelmed as Cleveland’s starting small forward.

Osman has had 11.0 points per outing this season, which is fine, but his ceiling seems pretty low at this point as Cleveland’s starting 3 and in that premium position in today’s league, the Cavs need more capability there. Not to mention, Osman’s limited defensively in terms of the on-ball sense against starting caliber wings, given his lack of lateral quickness, and at times, he has issues with closeouts (though that’s understandable).

Moreover, this 2019-20 season thus far, which may or may not eventually have some sort of resumption from its’ current novel coronavirus-induced hiatus, has provided clarity when it comes to Osman.

It’s evident that Osman isn’t the Cavs’ long-term answer as their starting 3, and next season, though he could still start a sizable chunk of games, I wouldn’t expect Cedi to be playing 29.4 minutes per outing again, as he has to this point this year.

Perhaps Dylan Windler will eventually fill that role, and while he has not played at all in 2019-20 due to complications involving a stress reaction in his left leg, Windler could bring a true sharpshooting element to the Cavs in coming years if he can be healthy. Windler, who had 21.3 points and 10.8 rebounds per game as a senior at Belmont, also shot 40.6 percent from three-point range on 4.2 attempts per outing in his four-year career, as documented by Sports Reference.

While it will undoubtedly take some time for Windler to get adjusted to the NBA game, he could be more lethal shooting off movement than Osman, and Windler is polished in the pull-up game, as a cutter with both hands and has good secondary playmaking feel as well.

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He has very good timing and positional sense as a rebounder, too, and has more fluidity than Osman, and if he warrants a considerable minutes-share, the Cavs might be better off with Windler in a starting role at the 3. They could’ve also potentially made that move if he were healthy this year, as Cleveland.com’s Chris Fedor alluded to.

In addition, even with it not being his natural position at the 2, Kevin Porter Jr., though he’ll need to improve as a team defender/rotator, did hold his own in plenty of minutes as Osman’s primary backup at the 3 this season so far.

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Porter has shown tons of potential as an on-ball creator in the scoring sense with 10.0 points per game in just 23.2 minutes per outing as a rookie, and while he’s hit only 33.5 percent of his three-pointers overall, he’s hit 40.7 percent of his catch-and-shoot deep shots, per NBA.com’s shot tracking data. Him having an assist rate of 14.7 percent has been a bright spot as well.

With more minutes, he could very well bring much more pop to the Cavs’ starting lineup than Osman if they went that route, but factoring in Darius Garland and Collin Sexton, that not be feasible long-term.

On the defensive end, though, Porter is far more athletic than Osman, and with more playing experience, he could develop into a key defender for Cleveland. He has had 1.4 steals per-36 minutes as a rookie so far, too.

Now, I would think that Osman could log a decent amount of minutes anyway with Windler and/or Porter going forward, but the more time went on throughout 2019-20, it was very clear that the Cavs need more from their starting 3.

Osman as the season progressed did have more of a secondary playmaking presence, and has had 2.4 assists per game, and I have always liked his feel in that sense. Along with that, Osman hitting 38.3 percent of his three-point attempts this season has also been encouraging, but the way Osman still has had games where he seemingly disappears when against starters was really telling.

Granted, I still believe Osman could be a solid bench piece that still should get his burn in coming years, but at this point, he’s not a long-term solution at a premium position in today’s league if you’re asking him to play near 30-plus minutes. I agree with KJG’s Amadou Sow in that regard, when projecting forward.

With that in mind, the Cavs could also select a potential starting replacement in the 2020 NBA Draft such as a switchable defender with very good playmaking instincts and finishing prowess in Auburn’s Isaac Okoro, a player with maybe more two-way potential and versatilty in Deni Avdija of the I-BSL’s Maccabi FOX Tel Aviv or a sharpshooter in Vanderbilt’s Aaron Nesmith.

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So again, whether or not we see more games in 2019-20, the season has provided clarity when it comes to Osman not being the Cavs’ long-term solution as their starting 3.