Is Collin Sexton a Starter, a Sixth Man, or a Scapegoat?
Cease me for those who’ve heard this one earlier than.
The Cleveland Cavaliers have inside frustrations concerning younger guard Collin Sexton, who many consider can be finest in a bench function.
That is the newest report to come back out of the Cavs camp (per Joe Vardon of The Athletic), following a string of eyebrow-raising occasions surrounding veteran large man Kevin Love, whose frustrations with being on a non-contending group have boiled over on a number of events.
Avoiding discourse concerning the timing of those studies, and inferences drawn by ‘connecting the dots,’ it’s clear that there’s a disconnect between the group Cleveland desires to placed on the court docket and the path they’re at the moment headed.
Sexton, averaging career-highs of 24.Four factors and 4.1 assists per sport on .483 % taking pictures from the sphere and .378 % taking pictures from 3-point vary, has been the group’s most efficient participant all through the season. Regardless of a long-standing status as an offensive blackhole and low-IQ participant, Sexton’s demonstrated a gradual progress in each his court docket imaginative and prescient and willingness to move.
Certainly, when contemplating the dearth of offensive choices the Cavs have possessed exterior of Sexton, the will to pigeonhole him within the function of a Sixth Man appears much less profound than out-of-touch.
Definitely, a traditionalist would see Sexton’s quick-hitting, score-first model and evaluate it to the sixth man archetype. Rightly so, I’ll add.
Nonetheless, such a viewpoint fails to take note of Sexton’s progress as a facilitator, in addition to the function he’s wanted to play.
To the latter level, one key instance of the significance of the Younger Bull’s scoring is seen within the distinction between how a lot he’s scored in wins (29.zero factors per sport) versus losses (22.2 factors per sport). There’s not a Sixth Man whose scoring has been as essential to a win as Sexton’s; not due to his model however as a result of these groups had different high-level scoring choices.
It turns into an virtually chicken-and-egg challenge till you assess Sexton’s progress as a passer and scoring in a number of methods off-ball.
As a passer, Sexton at the moment has 20 video games with no less than 5 assists this season after having simply 11 within the 2019-20 season and 12 within the 2018-19 season. Numbers apart, Sexton’s decision-making and court docket manipulation have improved, with him looking for out an open teammate after getting a step on his man or working his man open together with his pace, or the specter of it.
So what provides?
On the one hand, there are clearly occasions when Sexton calls his personal quantity as an alternative of his teammates, and whether or not or not it results in a made shot issues lower than that they really feel much less concerned then they need to be.
In some methods, that will appear to be an issue that falls on the teaching workers however they already run a wholesome dose of performs that get Sexton off-ball and will get everybody touches. In actuality, the onus falls on Sexton to be a bit extra keen of a passer; whereas his shot could give the group one of the best shot to win, constructing good habits like heavy ball-movement makes the sport extra enjoyable for and simpler for all.
That being stated, it’s a difficulty that’s largely overblown within the case of Sexton however highlights a bigger downside in Cleveland: the reek of egos and poor chemistry. An atmosphere that’s eerily paying homage to the the times the Cavs had Kyrie Irving and Dion Waiters in uniform, and in an influence wrestle.
Not solely is it a horrible present of camaraderie to leak an nameless and important report back to the media, relatively than addressing their teammate instantly, but it surely reveals a surprising lack of self-awareness by the Cavs.
After buying and selling away their most expert perimeter participant in Kevin Porter Jr., the Cavs have been sure to depend on a younger backcourt with inherent flaws and no true solution to escape the strain between the 2 for the rest of the season.
A stress that will not have been purposely created however was born from the unfavourable media cycle surrounding Sexton since his early days in The Land, in distinction to the tone taken when discussing Darius Garland.
Whereas Porter might very effectively have emerged as an eventual starter, his skillset complimented each Garland and Sexton equally. Porter could have even been in a position to begin alongside Garland and Sexton, giving Cleveland a three-headed beast on offense.
With out KPJ in-tow and with the entire different issues offered by the Cavs’ lack of total expertise and sturdiness, Sexton has been made to be a scapegoat when his efforts to place Cleveland in playoff rivalry must be celebrated.
Just some months in the past, Sexton was thought of a pillar of the franchise and their cultural spine.
#Cavs G Collin Sexton on criticism: “Everyone’s acquired their opinion. Everyone’s going to say what they must say. They really feel like I am not doing good at one thing, I am going to ensure I show them fallacious. I take the criticism and run with it…I am not working from it.”— Keith Britton (@KeithBritton86) Might 3, 2021
Now, with the tip of their 2020-21 season probably simply a few weeks away, one has to marvel if Cleveland nonetheless views the tough-skinned younger guard in the identical means.