2022-23 Cavaliers Year in Review | Small Forward Thoughts

June 16, 2023

Andy Billman

The 2022-23 Cleveland Cavaliers year in review continues:

3 things surrounding the small forward situation for the Cavs:

1 – Need a wing 

The Cleveland Cavaliers need to find not just one small forward, but two small forwards this offseason. They currently don’t have what I would consider even one prototypical NBA “wing” player on the roster.  

There are three players listed on the Cavs roster that usually fill out the small forward position, Issac Okoro, Cedi Osman, and Lamar Stevens. 

All three bring some positives and some negatives.  

2 – Isaac Okoro 

Isaac Okoro plays good defense on players that he can match up with size-wise, especially against teams that play three guards or smaller lineups, Okoro is a real weapon on the defensive end.  But when he has a match-up with a player who is taller or bigger than him, Okoro tends to struggle and has to be taken out.  

Offensively he has shown slight improvement in certain areas but teams don’t take him seriously on that end of the floor.  He really does not make any consistent impact on offense.

Okoro also has games where he checks out, so there is an element of all or nothing with Okoro on a given night.  At this point, I’m not sure I see Okoro as more than a good role player off the bench. 

3 – Cedi Osman, and Lamar Stevens

Cedi Osman and Lamar Stevens are easy players to define.  If you need an offensive plug, Osman gives you that instantly.  He’s good on the offensive end and is wonderful in transition.  He is a dual threat on offense as he can shoot and pass to make others around him better.  

If you need a defensive spark, Stevens is your guy.  He does not back down, has good size, and is actually a good rebounder so not only will make a stop, he will usually get the ball as well.  Stevens can body up a bigger player and plays hard which can rub off on others on that end of the floor.

When it comes to Osman and Stevens on the opposite end of the floor, it is not so good.  Osman gets blown by on defense and does not have the size or speed to match up with most small forwards.  Stevens will usually be isolated on offense and his defender is nowhere to be seen as he has trouble scoring and creating on offense.  Both are liabilities when not playing to their strengths.  

Overall – 

The Cavs are in a tricky position because all three players do have moments that help the team win, but their liabilities are striking, and Cleveland has a big disadvantage when playing against a talented, big small forward.

I would not be surprised if the Cavs end up trading one or two of the players this offseason as carrying all three on the roster again is just eating up spots rather than fixing the problem.  I would lean towards keeping Osman and Stevens on the roster as they do bring a spark on either end of the floor.  I am at a point with Okoro, I just don’t know if there’s any more upside, but if Cleveland believes he will improve, then keep him. 

The Cavs should look to sign a small forward for sure and either get a second in free agency or draft one as well.  There are rumors that Cleveland.com is reporting about a possible trade-up into the first round, and I would have to think it would be for this position. 

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