Your Favorite Player’s Favorite Kind Of Player

Kawhi Leonard. LeBron James. Kevin Durant. Cedi Osman.

You read that right. Cedi Osman belongs in the same conversation as the three (other) hall-of-famers I listed. There are two reasons for this. Reason one: he’s the kind of player you can win a championship with. Reason two: this incredible photo, courtesy of the 2018 off-season.

While I jest about the photo, Cedi’s bona fides as a cog on a championship roster are no joke. His stats may pale in comparison to his All-Star teammates on the Cavs, (a pedestrian 10pts, 3 rebounds, and 2 assists on 47% shooting) however they don’t capture his impact on the team’s winning record. To put it simply, he makes the game easier for his teammates. When he comes off the bench, you’re seconds away from seeing Cedi cut to the basket and generate an easy bucket and assist. While Mitchell & Garland are driving to the paint and collapsing the defense, they know Osman is in the corner with his hands up, eager to knock down a three. Immediately after the opposing team scores, Osman is known to dart to the baseline to whip the inbound pass to an open teammate in the front court before the defense can react. By making these intuitive plays, Cedi relieves stress from playmakers’ minds. Furthermore, the knowledge that Cedi moves without the ball in his hands and usually makes the right play means that his teammates don’t have to worry about what Cedi is doing and can focus on making the right play themselves.

Even though Osman’s counting stats may not bear out his full impact, advanced stats certainly do. The Cavs bench currently has a 0.8 net rating. This means that while Cedi and the second string are in play, they outscore their opponent by 0.8 points per 100 possessions. This may be a thin winning margin, but the fact that the bench can maintain and slightly expand a lead is commendable. After all, when the Cavs won the championship the bench net rating was -1.2. That team also had LeBron which certainly helped their efforts, however that version of LeBron would also appreciate having a bench that didn’t cough up the lead whenever he sat. Hell, any version of LeBron would appreciate this Cavs bench, of which Cedi is an integral part. In fact, Cedi currently leads the NBA in Net Rating with a score of 11.7,meaning he is a key reason for both the bench’s and team’s success. Regardless of your opinion on advanced stats, the fact that Cedi passes both the eye-test and stats-test demonstrates that his impact is indisputable.

I’m not the only one who’s noticed Cedi’s impact. On the January 3rd episode of The Mismatch, Kevin O’Connor praised Cedi’s shooting, playmaking, solid defensive effort, and ball movement, noting that Cedi could be “the piece” that the Cavs need to cement themselves as a true championship contender. Rather than having to trade for a big name wing, (easier said than done) O’Connor floated the idea of Cedi getting 30 minutes of play a night. More play time could mean losing the NBA’s net rating crown, however I doubt Cedi would mind that if it meant a larger role.

In the event that the Cavs do decide to make a trade Cedi’s contract brings value beyond it’s dollar amount. Sitting at $7.4 million this year and $6.7 next, his contract is both desirable and movable. If the right player becomes available Cedi could be packaged with another player and a pick to send the Cavs a more expensive but also more effective player. If the Cavs keep Osman, they can still afford to sign players like Evan Mobley or Caris LeVert to extensions without having to let a core member walk in free agency. Regardless of whether Cedi is on the roster by season’s end he will still be impacting the team; now that’s value.

So what makes Cedi a probable champion? After all, he hasn’t had any playoff success since his rookie year, in which he rode LeBron’s coattails to the finals. (But hey, so did everyone on that team) The answer should be pretty clear by this point; Cedi is the ideal role player in 2023. He plays the most sought after position on the market as a 3 & D wing. The advanced stats show he’s among the most impactful players in the league. His skillset meshes with his teammates and is resulting in winning. He’s comfortable coming off the bench, and when he does, the Cavs win. (See the Cavs 2nd ranked net rating)

There’s a reason that Cedi is in that photo, and it’s bigger than being LeBron’s teammate those years ago. Kawhi, KD, and LeBron all covet having a player alongside them in the same mold as Cedi. The recent Nets win streak and emergence of Yuta Watanabe is no coincidence; Kawhi signed to the Clippers based on their promise that they’d acquire a 3 & D wing that makes the right plays in the form of Paul George; Whenever LeBron is surrounded by shooting and defense, championships follow. Cedi probably won’t win a Finals MVP like those players, but come June you can expect to see Cedi standing next to someone who is. And if it’s not Cedi, it’ll be someone a whole lot like him.

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