The Cleveland Cavaliers have started this NBA season with a bang. Many teams have had to work on team chemistry and fit, but the Cavs have made that look easy. The newest arrival to the core, Donovan Mitchell, has shown to be a strong fit for this team. He is a nice addition to the core of Garland, Mobley, and Allen.
With Garland at point, Mitchell at shooting guard, Mobley at power forward, and Allen at center, the team looks to be all set. There is one question though: who is at small forward? There are three candidates that can play the three for the Cavs: Caris LeVert, Isaac Okoro, and Cedi Osman.
The Cavs are trying to find their starting small forward. Which wings will take it? Will it be Caris LeVert, Cedi Osman, or Isaac Okoro?
Before I begin, the stats I am using come from the 2022-23 Cleveland Cavaliers page on Basketball Reference. Caris LeVert has started every game so far this season. Isaac Okoro started against the Bulls and Wizards due to Darius Garland’s injury. He came off the bench against the Magic due to Dean Wade starting. Cedi Osman has come off the bench every game so far.
Caris LeVert has a strong case to have the starting three spot. Out of all three players, LeVert averages the most rebounds (3.5), assists (6.3), steals (1.0), minutes played (34.3), and three-point percentage (.476). He averages 11.5 points per game, but he isn’t the highest between the three players. Unfortunately, he is shooting .289% (making 3.3 out of 11.3 attempts). Even though that is low, we have only played four games so far.
LeVert has mostly been a shooting guard for most of his career. This would put him as the backup to Donovan Mitchell if he strictly played shooting guard. He has been able to play that position with Garland being injured, but can he transition back to the three when Garland comes back? LeVert has decent size to be a three being 6’6” but could struggle defensively with only weighing 205.
Isaac Okoro is the most defensively focused of all three players. Unfortunately, he is last in points (1.5), rebounds (1.0), assists (0), steals (0.3), and blocks (0) out of the three wings. Okoro is playing about 17.5 minutes per game, shooting 25 percent per game and has missed all of his 3-pointers. This is terrible. Okoro is 6’5” and weighs 225. He is too small to play small forward. With these stats and his size, LeVert takes the starting three spot from Okoro.
Lastly, we have Cedi Osman. Osman has been on the Cavs the longest out of these wings. He has played both as a shooting guard and a small forward for the Cavs many times over the last few years and has been hot to start this season. Osman averages the most points with 15.5, but also the most fouls (3.3). He averages the most fouls on the team overall. Osman averages 3.0 rebounds, 2.8 assists, 0.3 steals, 0.3 blocks, and 0.8 turnovers. Out of all three players, he shoots the best percentage with 52.4 percent, but just misses on LeVert with 47.4 percent from three. Osman is 6’7” and weighs 230. His size is perhaps most ideal for what the Cavs would want from a wing.
With all of these factors, the race really only comes down to Caris LeVert and Cedi Osman. The spot will probably go to Caris LeVert. The Cavs have been winning so far with him at the three. He may not have the best shooting percentage, but again the season just started. He has plenty of time to get his numbers up. He gives the Cavs another option with Garland and Mitchell on the floor.
Cedi Osman would be good for the Cavs if he stayed on the bench. He and Kevin Love can lead the scoring for the Cavs bench. Osman is a great person to plug in if the starters need a break. He will have an easier time scoring on the opponents’ second unit than against starters. Isaac Okoro would be better just coming off the bench. He can focus on defense, and he will have less pressure by being on the bench.
The best thing about this though is coach J.B. Bickerstaff. He has been a great coach for the Cavs and has been able to bring the best out of his players. He is able to place guys where they can contribute the most. It is great that Cavaliers fans can be at peace with coach Bickerstaff at the helm.