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Body: Feature: Catch a Shooting Star

Cavs Sophomore Cedi Osman Prepares for His All-Star Weekend Debut on Friday Night
by Joe Gabriele Beat Writer

Catch a
Shooting Star

Cavs Sophomore Cedi Osman Prepares for His All-Star Weekend Debut on Friday Night in Charlotte

One basketball generation ago, overseas imports weren’t the NBA norm.

There were international players scattered around the league. A Detlef Schrempf here, an Arvydas Sabonis there. When Drazen Petrovic hit the scene in the early-90s, he was an even greater anomaly – a Euro with sizzle.

If you need to know how much things have changed since then, tune in Friday night and watch the Team World squad that takes on Team USA at the Spectrum Center in Charlotte. It might be the most competitive event of the weekend.

The World squad features a pair of No. 1 overall picks, three players who were once campers in Basketball Without Borders and a teenager who’s looking like the odds-on favorite for Rookie of the Year.

Team World will also feature the Wine & Gold’s lone representative at this year’s midseason classic – Cedi Osman.

(The only other Cavalier to participate as a member of Team World in the new format was Matthew Dellavedova as a sophomore in 2015. The game was divvied into “Team Shaq” and “Team Chuck” squads before that; Rookies/Sophomore before that. Overall, 18 other Cavs have played in the game – whatever its format – dating back to 1994.)

In his second season in the Association – and first as a starter – the 23-year-old forward has almost tripled his point production from his rookie season, averaging 12.6 ppg on the season (after 3.9 ppg as a rookie). Only Minnesota’s Derrick Rose and Atlanta’s John Collins have seen a bigger scoring jump this year.

This season, the young Macedonian with the million-dollar smile – originally drafted with the first pick of the second round by Minnesota in 2015 – has notched double-figures on 34 occasions, tallying three double-doubles and reaching the 20-point plateau nine times.

Osman – a fan favorite from the moment he arrived in Cleveland – was playing the best ball of his NBA career as All-Star Weekend approached – averaging 24.3 points on 55 percent shooting from the floor, including 48 percent from long-range, over a four-game span that saw him top the 20-point plateau in three of them.

After getting off to a solid start against his future Team World teammate Luka Doncic and the Mavericks, Osman injured his right ankle and has been sidelined since.

While he works his way back to health – to rejoin both his Cavs teammates and his Team World squad this weekend – caught up with Cedi to talk about representing the franchise this weekend, how much his squad wants to win and his coach in this Friday’s contest, Dirk Nowitzki …

Cedi Osman averaged 24.3 points per in the four games before being sidelined by an ankle injury.
Photo by David Liam Kyle/NBAE via Getty Images

How much does it mean to you to be the franchise’s only representative at All-Star Weekend?

Cedi Osman: It's a real privilege.

It's very important for me that I'm going to be there representing the Cavs and this organization. I know what All-Star Weekend means to everybody, so it's going to be a very important experience for me and it's great for the organization.

Now I just have to go out, have fun and represent the Cavs in the best way I can.

All-Star games aren’t exactly known for their competitiveness. How badly do you and your team want to win?

Osman: Oh, we want to win! Definitely!

We're going for the win. We have a great team and we're going to play a great team.

It's gonna be fun, but we're playing for that win for sure.

Is there anyone your especially looking forward to playing with/against?

Osman: Yeah, I'm looking forward to playing with Luka, Ben Simmons. I mean, we have so many great players.

We have a really good team. It's going to be a fun game.

"I think I just started understanding the game better. During those four games, I just felt very comfortable."

Cedi Osman, on playing some of his best ball before the Break

As far as international stars, Dirk Nowitzki is kind of the godfather of your generation. Are you looking forward to being coached by him?

Osman: Yes, definitely!

That's the best part, because he's my favorite player.

Dirk's my all-time favorite player. Growing up, I watched him a lot -- he was my idol. So being coached by him, it's going to be a really big experience for me.

Your game is Friday night, but are you looking forward to the entire Weekend in Charlotte?

Osman: Yes, I'm going to be there for the Weekend because I want to just enjoy that experience, because it’s my first time. And hopefully, there will be a lot more.

But I think it’ll be a cool experience for me.

Can you see yourself in the actual All-Star Game itself one day?

Osman: I hope so. You know, it is one of my goals, to be an All-Star player.

I’m a Rising Star, and I appreciate being that, but to be in that real game, it's one of my career goals. And I know that I can achieve that.

Before injuring your ankle, you were playing some of the best ball of your career. What changed for you over that last week?

Osman: I think I just started understanding the game better. During those four games, I just felt very comfortable. I was trying to do my best on both ends.

It was really fun, and I think we were playing pretty well as a team.

But I think I'm understanding the game right now and I feel comfortable.

I know it was bad timing, getting hurt just when I was playing my best games of the year. But still, when I come I just want it to keep going and continue the same way.

Thoughts on the second half when you return from Charlotte?

Osman: It's been very tough losing, you know. Nobody's liking that and everybody wants to win.

We're playing hard and we're playing better basketball than the beginning of the year and we know that everything is a teaching point. We just have to keep working hard, and I know that this year is actually going to help us a lot over the next few years.


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