J.B. Bickerstaff commends ‘threat’ Cedi Osman: ‘There’s so much that he does to help our team’

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Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

The Cleveland Cavaliers are off to a 2-1 start in the 2022-23 season, and Cedi Osman has played a big part in that solid start.

With point guard Darius Garland missing the last two games for Cleveland with an eye injury, Osman has come up huge in the scoring department for Cleveland off the bench.

So far this season, Osman is averaging 16.0 points, 1.7 rebounds and 2.7 assists per game while shooting a terrific 56.7 percent from the field and 57.1 percent from beyond the arc. He’s come up with several big shots for the Cavs over their last two wins.

With Cleveland trading away Lauri Markkanen, Ochai Agbaji and Collin Sexton in the deal for Donovan Mitchell, it opened up minutes for Osman to make a major impact. Even though he’s come off the bench in all three games for the team this season, Osman is playing more minutes per game (28.3) than Isaac Okoro (19.7), who has made two starts.

Cavs head coach J.B. Bickerstaff gave Osman a ton of credit for his play to start this season.

“What we have told Cedi is he is not a make-or-miss player,” Bickerstaff said. “He is a two-way impact guy. We will never take him out for missing a shot because he has the ability to be a sparkplug on both ends of the floor. We know that. We want him to continue to contribute at the level he is contributing. Cedi has a spirit where his shot goes in, or he gets a steal, runout or layup and it’s uplifting. Our guys feel that. His personality or whatever it may be, our guys thrive off his energy and it’s important that we keep that high and his confidence high because you can see the impact he can have.”

Osman appeared in 66 games for the Cavs last season, but he played just 22.2 minutes per game, his fewest since his rookie season. Cleveland had a crowded frontcourt last season when Kevin Love, Markkanen and Okoro were all healthy.

The team’s trade for Caris LeVert last season gave Osman yet another wing player to compete with, but he’s fought through to earn a significant role in the rotation so far in the 2022-23 campaign.

“He’s a threat,” Bickerstaff said of Osman. “When the ball is in his hands, eyes are on him. When he’s on the floor, people don’t wanna give him open looks, so they gravitate to him which creates separation and spacing for everybody else. He does such a great job of moving without the ball instead of just standing in one spot.

“There’s so much that he does to help our team. Obviously, if you’re making shots, we love it. But provide that spark in other ways. He does a great job of getting to the basket. He moves at a pace and tempo that defenses have a hard time keeping up with. He’s a good facilitator when he’s moving and makes his teammates better. He gets deflections on the defensive end and gets us out and transition. The shooting is a bonus, and the scoring is a bonus if we continue to emphasize those other things.”

Playing with Mitchell and Garland (when he’s healthy) should allow Osman to get a ton of easy looks on the offensive end since the two All-Star guards command so much attention from opposing defenses.

Osman, a career 35.2 percent shooter from beyond the arc, is in the middle of a hot streak, and the Cavs would be wise to continue riding his hot hand early in the season.

It’s likely that the forward will regress a bit as the season goes on, but he’s proven that he is a key depth piece for Cleveland when it is fully healthy.

Having Osman, Okoro and LeVert all as options on the wing should make the Cavs a dangerous team in the Eastern Conference.

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Peter is a graduate of Quinnipiac University where he covered the MAAC and college basketball for three years. He has worked for NBC Sports, the Connecticut Sun and the Meriden Record-Journal covering basketball and other major sports. Follow him on Twitter @peterdewey2.