Cleveland Cavaliers guard Collin Sexton suffered a torn meniscus in his left knee and does not have a timetable to return yet. The 22-year-old sustained the injury while banging knees with Jarrett Allen in the second quarter of their huge Sunday night win over the New York Knicks. Sexton will undergo further tests and evaluations to find out the severity and timeline of his injury. Losing Sexton is certainly a huge blow for a Cavs team hoping to break a three-year playoff drought.
This is unfortunate news as the Cavaliers are off to their best start since the 2016-17 season with a 7-4 mark and have won four games in a row. Sexton has played a part as to why Cleveland is off to the races this year. He leads the team in scoring, averaging 16.0 points per game, and he also has the highest usage on the team. Those indicate that the Cavs’ offense relies pretty heavily on him whenever he’s on the floor, especially as a scorer and shot creator.
Still, losing Sexton shouldn’t be the end of the world for this Cavaliers team. Here are three reasons why Cleveland will be just fine without their starting 2-guard.
The Cavs will be fine without Collin Sexton
1. Cleveland’s defense has been the main reason for their success
Make no mistake about it, Collin Sexton is a bucket. As far as three-level scorers go, he’s as good as anybody in the league. But he hasn’t been particularly known for his efforts on the other side of the floor, where Cleveland has made its mark this season.
Perhaps the biggest reason for the Cavaliers’ early season success is their defense. The Cavs are by no means a top defensive team. They are just riding in the middle, holding the No. 14 defensive rating across the league so far, per NBA.com. Still, this is a significant rise from when they finished 25th last season and dead last the two seasons prior to 2020-21.
Twin towers Jarrett Allen, who was recently named Eastern Conference Player of the Week, and prized rookie big man Evan Mobley have been the primary catalysts for defensive jump this year. Losing Sexton won’t hurt them from that standpoint. In fact, their defense might even get an uptick as they could replace the undersized shooting guard with a bigger and more defensive-minded wing in Isaac Okoro, who could return soon from a strained hamstring.
Sexton’s injury undoubtedly stings Cleveland on offense, but they should remain strong, or even get better, defensively without him.
2. The ball should move around more
Yes, Sexton plays a huge role for Cleveland offensively. Whenever the Cavs are desperate for a bucket, he’s the guy they give the ball to. And when he has it going, Cleveland’s best bet for offense would be to give Collin Sexton the ball and get out of his way.
Still, the downside of the Alabama standout’s high-level scoring ability is his tendency to disrupt the flow of the offense. While Sexton has made strides as an off-ball scorer through the early goings of this season, he still has moments when he calls his own number too often.
With Sexton out, Ricky Rubio, who had a career game against the Knicks, should gobble up most of his minutes and get extended run alongside Darius Garland in the backcourt. The Spanish point guard’s elite playmaking has been well-documented throughout his career. He should be the primary ball handler and creator when he gets on the floor, and his teammates will benefit from his willingness to find them for easy shots. That isn’t something they will get with Sexton, who will always try to look to put the ball in the bucket first.
3. Evan Mobley could shine more
Cavaliers rookie stud Evan Mobley is arguably the top first-year player in the league this season. The 20-year-old has undoubtedly exceeded all expectations surrounding him, as many thought he would struggle out of the gates in his rookie campaign. As each game goes by, it’s becoming more and more clear that Mobley is going to be the cornerstone for this Cavaliers team moving forward.
With Sexton’s injury, this should only feature Mobley more as one of Cleveland’s primary options on offense. He is already tied as the Cavs’ third-leading scorer alongside Jarrett Allen, averaging 14.9 points while showcasing potential as a three-level scorer.
Still, with his lanky frame and being a rookie big man, it might be difficult for the USC standout to create on his own. That’s why Ricky Rubio stepping up in Sexton’s place could further benefit Mobley’s career as the pass-first guard feeds Mobley with easy baskets.