The Cavs did not see Cedi Osman play in the Saturday night loss to the Sacramento Kings. In fact, a lot of usual rotation guys didn’t. Yet, it was Osman who was the most glaring omission. While it’s true he’s had issues shooting the ball, he’s been a good passer, a solid defender, and an overall fine addition to the team. Yet, his shooting has fallen off so bad that he has become a liability on the court. One can argue there’s little difference between the shortcomings of Osman and rookie Isaac Okoro and in a lot of ways they’re right.
Their numbers are very similar, with Osman maintaining a noticeable but still slim margin over Okoro in every standard statistical category except one; field goal percentage. Again, marginal, Okoro was at 41%, while Osman was at 35%, but Osman also shot three-to-four more shots per game over Okoro, mostly from three-point range, while Okoro mostly finished inside or around the paint.
So the difference was understandable. The big difference though is that Okoro is viewed by many as the team’s best defensive player; for whatever that’s worth. So he inherently has something going for him that Osman doesn’t, a skill that sets him apart from the starting five. So fair enough, it makes sense on paper why Okoro starts.
The problem is, Osman should’ve been doing something to make the Cavs regret making him a rotation guy. Problem is, all he’s done is justified their decision. This brings us to Saturday night.
The Cavs have played 46 games in the 2020-2021 regular season. Osman has played in 44 of those, missing one because of injury (he didn’t dress against the 76ers). Not until last night, despite his poor season scoring the ball, did Osman not play while healthy.
That’s what happened though, as Lamar Stevens, Dean Wade, and Damyean Dotson were the only rotational players to get in the game. Wade and Dotson played well over 20 minutes apiece, meaning the starters really had their work cut out for them.
While the Kings aren’t a great team, the Cavs did everything to win the game. It really wasn’t their fault that Harrison Barnes went full Steph Curry on them with less than a second on the clock, and hit a falling three-pointer to win the game.
That’s like settling for a 70-yard field goal, and it actually goes in (thanks to some help from the wind). You can’t prepare for that. Just accept it.
So now the Cavs have shown they don’t need Osman’s shooting in the lineup to compete. Maybe it was a style/match-up issue with the Kings, maybe not but it’s clear that Osman is struggling. He went from hitting nearly 44% of his shots from the floor last year to now 35%, a nine percent drop. His three-pointer has really taken a hit, going from about 38% last year, to barely above 30% this year.
He needs a mental break. He’s forcing himself to take shots and they’re not all bad looks, but you’d never know it. Don’t get it twisted though, Osman is a talent. In the last few years, he’s been one of the more consistent players in the organization. Now with no one else to really carry the three-point load, he’s found himself shooting seven, or eight times a game. The added pressure and high volume have clearly done a number on his confidence.
Osman’s not a bad player by any means, but he clearly needs time to readjust. Maybe benching him for a few games and letting guys like Stevens and Wade play more minutes is the way to go. After all, at this point in the season, it’d make more sense to let guys like Osman and the injured Kevin Love just sit out and let the younger guys get more reps.
Maybe bring back Osman after ten games or so to finish out the year, but if he doesn’t start stringing together consecutive games of good consistency, his spot will need to be reevaluated and that sucks to say, as I’m personally a fan of the guy but this is a very simple business. Perform or be replaced.