CLEVELAND -- Whether it is a player who holds a position of leadership or reserve who gives a boost in energy, no matter the sport, every coach talks about the need for athletes to provide a spark for their teammates.
As of late, that player for the Cavaliers is none other than 22-year old rookie forward Cedi Osman, who in the last week, has gone from getting spot minutes to being inserted into the starting lineup for his effort and hustle.
“I like what he brings,” Cavaliers coach Tyronn Lue said. “I think having LeBron at the four gives teams, well, he’s a disadvantage anyway, but it’s a big disadvantage having to defend him, and now, you’ve got four guys who can push it out on the break.
“I think that’s big. I think having (Rodney) Hood come off the bench being a scoring power, being a scoring threat, we can run things through him. I think it’s big also. I like where we’re at right now. We’ll just kind of go from there and see how it lays out.”
PHOTOS: Cedi Osman settles into expanded role with Cleveland Cavaliers
Following Sunday’s 121-99 win over the Boston Celtics at TD Garden, Osman talked about the importance of mental preparation, and how it has resulted in solid play on both ends for the floor for a Cavaliers team that turned over their roster by trading away six players and a first-round pick in the 2018 NBA Draft in exchange for four new athletes and a draft selection at the NBA trade deadline last Thursday.
Over 68 minutes of playing time in the last two games, Osman has averaged 14 points, 5.5 rebounds, three assists and two steals.
“He’s out there just playing for the love of the game,” Cavaliers forward LeBron James said after a recent game. “He’s going to make mistakes, which is okay, but his purity of the game is infectious to our team.
“He hasn’t been in many situations, so he’s not going to trip about what’s going on. I think he’s going to play his game, and he’s been in professional basketball since he was 14 years old, so he plays the game the right way, and it’s great to have him.”
Despite missing a dunk late in the first half against the Celtics, Osman settled into a rhythm after the missed dunk and scored nine of his 12 points over the final 26 minutes of action. Additionally, Osman pulled down five rebounds, handed out one assist and corralled one of Cleveland’s seven steals in the game.
“Cedi, that’s my guy,” forward Jeff Green said recently. “It’s wonderful to see him out there. He loves basketball. The enthusiasm he brings, the effort, the passion that he brings to the game is what we need. He plays hard, and you’ve got to love it.
“For a rookie, he plays so poised. He made some good plays, good defensive stops. You just love to see with how hard he’s worked to be in that position to go out there and succeed. When he’s putting in the work, you know it’s going to pay off, and he’s going to continue to get minutes and he’s going to be out there with us. I’m going to support him and make sure he’s doing the right thing.”