No one really knew who Cedi Osman was when the Cleveland Cavaliers selected him with the 31st overall pick in the 2015 NBA Draft. Then when they stashed him overseas, much as they did with many of their draft prospects during the LeBron James era, those curiosities surrounding the type of player he is (and could be) became even more of a mystery.
Little did he know, from the moment he would don his wine and gold No. 16 jersey, the 23-year-old would instantly become a fan favorite in Cleveland.
Along with that, 113 games (63 starts) into his NBA career, the forward has already been named a Rising Star. With that said, he has far bigger aspirations and dreams, including heading back to All-Star Weekend, except this time actually playing Sunday night after being selected as an All-Star instead of Friday night as a Rising Star.
“Yes, yes I am,” Osman told The Athletic’s Joe Vardon. “From the last year until now, I think that I’ve put a lot of work in and I think I improved a lot during this stretch, and I was just, I already know that I can do this — that I can be a rising star, I can be an All-Star.
“It just, I have a learning process and you have to believe in yourself and be comfortable.”
Osman didn’t play much during his rookie campaign. It wasn’t due to his skillset or ability to be a legitimate player in the league or lack thereof, it was simply because, with LeBron, the Cavs were in win-now mode and couldn’t afford to work on developing a player, specifically during games.
In case you needed to know the type of person and player Osman is and can be, LeBron — after taking Cedi under his wing in 2017-18 — invited him to a group workout in UCLA during the offseason. There were only three other players there: LeBron, Kevin Durant, and Kawhi Leonard. Osman was literally working out with three of the best forwards in the NBA. It was a moment that not only meant so much to Osman himself but also gave Cavs fans a glimpse of the type of special player and the person he is as well.
LeBron’s not the only one who thinks highly of Osman. In a league that has plenty of young Europeans that have already made a name for themselves, those players have also spoken highly of Turkish forward as well.
“I think he can be really great in this league,” Dallas Mavericks rookie phenom Luka Doncic said of Osman this past weekend. “If he keeps working, he can be really great in this league, for sure.”
“He’s definitely getting there,” said Chicago Bulls forward Lauri Markkanen. “Especially in the Euros when I played him, it felt like he was a star like he was that guy on the team, and he knew it. And he was playing like that. He’s definitely good.”
“Great guy,” Sacramento Kings guard Bogdan Bogdanovic said. “He’s dedicated his life to playing professional basketball. He works hard every single day. He is one of the best players that Turkey has in history … and they will cheer about him, follow him in his amazing career.”
With No. 23 now in Los Angeles, the 2018-19 season has given Osman a major opportunity to not only play but start and be a key contributor on a team that’s still searching for ways to be a legitimate contender in the East. Of the 52 games that he has played in so far this season, the 6-foot-8, 215-pound forward has started 51 of them. In what’s been a season full of ups and downs for the second-year forward, Osman has averaged 12.6 points, 4.6 rebounds, and 2.3 assists while shooting 42.5 percent from the floor and 32.7 percent from beyond the arc in 31.4 minutes a night.
As Cleveland continues to root for and watch him on a nightly basis, it’s easy to see that with more experience, the small forward continues to improve. Whether it’s knocking down an open shot, creating a shot for himself, or doing his best to create an opportunity or open shot for one of his teammates, with every game and NBA minute under his belt, Osman is becoming more and more comfortable. Over his last six games, he has averaged 20 points, 5.3 rebounds, 3.5 assists, and 1.2 steals while shooting 54.2 percent from the field and 45.9 percent from three-point range.
While he still has quite a ways to go in order to become an All-Star, if anyone can do it, it’s Osman. As the Cavs continue to improve and put playmakers around him, the forward will also improve and the game will become much easier.
Replacing LeBron at small forward is a tough job and Osman will never be able to compare to one of the best players to ever lace them up, but the fan favorite has all of Cleveland behind him and has taken advantage of his increased role. Now he just has to focus on continuing to improve as he will be counted on to be one of the wine and gold’s top scorers for the foreseeable future.
He’s not only really popular in Cleveland but Osman is quite popular in Turkey too. He knows that he must represent his country at the highest level and he has already done just that.
“It is really important for me,” he said. “It is because, you know I am going to be here, representing Turkey. They’re expecting a lot of things from me. They want me to be good and I know they are supporting me no matter what.”
If things go well, Osman will be an All-Star sooner rather than later, while also helping lead the new-look Cavaliers to a spot in the postseason. He already has LeBron and plenty of other NBA players along with all of Cleveland on his side, now we just have to wait and see how long it will take until that will happen.