It isn’t too late to jump on the Collin Sexton bandwagon.
The second-year guard is in the midst of a post-break resurgence for the second straight season. Sexton exploded against the Boston Celtics in a losing effort on Wednesday night, posting a career-high 41 points on 17-30 shooting from the field. He also dished out six assists, showing off an improved playmaking ability stemming from pre-game film sessions with assistant coach Lindsay Gottlieb.
Collin Sexton since January 1, 2020:
Sexton is one of 17 guards to average 20+ PPG in that span (min. 10 GP). The only one to average more PPG with a higher eFG% is Damian Lillard. pic.twitter.com/YPD5B81NgR
— Justin Kubatko (@jkubatko) March 5, 2020
Sexton limped out of the gates last season during his rookie season, managing 15.1 points per game on a pedestrian 40% from the field before the all-star break. After the break, he cleaned up his shot profile and got more confident from three-point range. Premature concerns from unnamed veterans about if he even knew how to play were put to bed and we were reminded once again to be patient with rookie point guards.
One year later Sexton is continuing to quietly grow for a Cleveland Cavaliers team that has otherwise been a cesspool of mediocrity outside of the LeBron James years. He has scored 120 points over his last four games and hit 14 of his 28 three-pointers during that span. His is shooting a respectable 38.6% from three on 4 attempts per game and has increasingly displayed his ability to finish inside by staying physical all the way to the basket where he shows a soft touch over length.
Now granted, the Cavaliers are still a bad basketball team and Sexton needs to continue to grow as a playmaker and defender. The Cavaliers face an uphill battle trying to move Kevin Love to a contender and are only at the beginning of a complete roster overhaul. They aren’t good this year. They won’t be good next year either. The difference is that Sexton is starting to look like a draft pick that hit. Their selection of Darius Garland with the fifth pick in the 2019 NBA draft felt like an insurance policy against the possibility that Sexton ended up being a bust. With Sexton now producing consistently, Cleveland can now turn 2020’s ping pong ball and free agency focus to other positions. The fact that he is viable enough in Cleveland for them to think about building the foundation of a team with an identity is a miracle in itself.
Stories of veterans questioning Sexton’s coachability have turned into public affirmations of his work ethic. Sexton has continued to quietly pile on through the noise and criticism and has changed some opinions about his ceiling as a result. His viability alone is the only thing keeping the Cavaliers a touch above the New York Knicks in terms of credibility. If nothing else, they can proceed knowing that they made a solid pick in 2019.