They may be the oldest team in the NBA, but the Cleveland Cavaliers are about to experience a youth movement.
At the team's shootaround on Friday, coach Tyronn Lue told reporters that rookies Cedi Osman and Ante Zizic will each receive playing time in the team's7 p.m. tip-off against the Washington Wizards.
According to Lue, the decision to give Osman and Zizic their first significant minutes of the 2017-18 season comes as the result of injuries suffered by guard Iman Shumpert and center Tristan Thompson earlier in the week. Shumpert is currently out with a knee injury he is expected to return from next week, while Thompson suffered a left calf strain that will hold him out of action for a month.
A 6-foot-8 rookie out of Turkey, Osman earned high praise for his play in the FIBA EuroBasket 2017 tournament over the summer, averaging 16 points, 5 rebounds and 3.8 assists. In four preseason games last month, the former second-round pick averaged 4.0 points, 3.3 rebounds and 2.3 assists while playing 18.5 minutes per game.
While Osman will provide depth on the perimeter, the 6-foot-11 Zizic, who the Cavs acquired in the same trade that sent Kyrie Irving to the Boston Celtics in August, will attempt to help make up for the loss of Thompson. In five preseason games, the 20-year-old native of Croatia averaged 4.4 points on .571 shooting and 3.4 rebounds.
With their record currently sitting at 3-5 on the season, the Cavs are looking for a spark as they attempt to snap what is now a four-game losing streak. And while that may prove to be a tall task for two rookies against an Eastern Conference challenger like the Wizards, Lue liked what he saw from Osman and Zizic in workout prior to Cleveland's Friday shootaround.
"They're young guys, energetic," Lue said. "We came out here today and ran through a lot of the plays and they knew them the best."