There was no easing into this season for Cedi Osman. Not when you’re matched up against Kawhi Leonard, the two-time NBA Defensive Player of the Year, on opening night.
After winning over the crowd last season as the energetic rookie with a permanent smile on his face, it’s now time for Cedi to take the next step in his second season. He started that process with his off-season season work during the summer. Most notably, at a workout hosted by LeBron, featuring a few of the biggest superstars in the NBA.
One of those superstars being his opponent for Cleveland’s first game, Kawhi Leonard.
Cedi must have learned a few things playing against him in the offseason. Even though Kawhi finished last night’s game with 24 points and 12 rebounds, Leonard’s stats do not reflect the valiant effort put forth by Cedi Osman defensively while guarding him. Cedi kept Kawhi in front of him for most of the first half, forcing him into tough mid-range jumpers. While it was far from a perfect night, there is only so much you can do to try and stop a top-5 player in the league.
Offensively, Cedi sees the court like a veteran. He pushes the ball in transition and looks to distribute while driving in the lane. His handles are exceptional for a 6’8″ player. He drove with a purpose more in this game than he did all last season. He finished with 17 points on 5/10 shooting, with 10 rebounds and four assists as well.
This was not a perfect night offensively either. In fact, I believe there were a lot of areas where he can improve. I mean that as a compliment like he will be able to learn a lot from this game. I would attribute his mistakes last night to a lack of experience utilizing his skills in ways he hasn’t been asked before. Which, I believe, will be fixed as he adds more starts and takes on more responsibility.
The Cedi hype-train is full steam ahead for me and many others here in Cleveland. Last night showed me he’s up to the task of becoming a great player in this league.