Osman, Zizic lead Cavs to win over Wizards in Summer League opener

(David Dow/NBAE via Getty Images)

It became routine for rookie energizer Cedi Osman to spring off the bench when the Cleveland Cavaliers successfully made a jaw-dropping play throughout the course of the 2017-18 season. It has also become routine to mention the obvious effect LeBron James has left on the Cavs organization, after leaving his home for the second time — this time for Los Angeles. 

Osman, along with a young core featuring rookie eight overall pick Collin Sexton, potentially promising center Ante Zizic, and a flashy flyer in former five-star Kansas recruit Billy Preston, have received the calling from Cavaliers general manager Koby Altman to somehow fill the gaping void left by James.1

The four players had their first crack at showing some promise last night in their opening 2018 NBA Summer League game in Las Vegas with a 72-59 win against the Washington Wizards. The “young bull” Cavs did not necessarily pass their first test with flying colors, but they sure came close.

Cleveland sports fans (some jokingly and some seriously) have furnished their faith in the former European star to lead the Cavs franchise out of basketball purgatory. A tall task is an understatement for Osman. Despite the appearance of looking at climbing up Mount Everest, the one-year veteran along with Zizic, did their best impersonations of showing some of what this Cavs team learned under the leadership of LeBron.

When the ball was tipped and the much-anticipated first Summer League game was underway, it was difficult to not be convinced that Osman actually was not Kyle Korver after shooting a quick three-pointer and getting a lucky three bounces off the rim to score the first three points of the evening. 

Osman continued his scoring feat with a double-double performance, adding 15 points and 10 rebounds. Impressively, he made a few jaw-dropping plays of his own, adding three steals within the first five minutes of play. He finished totaled 15 points, 10 rebounds, three assists, four steals, a block, and three turnovers in the opener.

Zizic would have received the game ball if there was one to be given, after dominating the match leading all scorers with 16 points, shooting 50 percent from the field. The second-year center also added an impressive 14 rebounds and five assists. The big man flashed at times throughout the regular season in limited minutes (most coming in garbage time) but did promote promise as a perfect piece to a possibly never-ending puzzle in restoring Cleveland’s basketball team.

The long awaited wait to see Alabama rookie Collin Sexton was finally over, as he contributed 15 points, seven rebounds, and only two turnovers in his professional basketball debut. Although he didn’t have a single assist, the rookie made his own three-pointer of the night. It was an overall successful first outing, finishing with a plus-seven in 29 minutes.

The Cavs Summer League team received a nine-point performance from Preston, and Marcus Lee totaled eight points and five rebounds in the win. Yes, it is just a glorified scrimmage between the NBA’s youngest players but all are looking for just a glimmer of hope to cling to in the mist of losing their homegrown superstar for the second time.

  1. The latter of which signed a two-way contract with the Cavs for the 2018-19 season. []