Collin Sexton, Cedi Osman, and Kevin Love get first taste as Cavs new Big 3
“What’s it look like for Collin Sexton, Cedi Osman, Larry Nance Jr. to close out games in the fourth quarter with Kevin Love on the team and try to win that game as opposed to being down 30 and developing that way?,” said Cleveland Cavaliers general manager Koby Altman (per cleveland.com‘s Chris Fedor).
“Having Collin, Cedi and Larry play with Kevin, they are going to be infinitely better because of that. We want to develop our guys through being competitive.”
On Friday, with the Cleveland Cavaliers determined to mount a successful comeback against the Minnesota Timberwolves, Cavs head coach Tyronn Lue played a five-man lineup that featured rookie Collin Sexton, sixth man Jordan Clarkson, second-year small forward Cedi Osman, five-time All-Star Kevin Love and veteran center Tristan Thompson.
While Clarkson’s name may have been a surprise within that five-man unit, considering that he’s a player whose style is so fitting as a sparkplug off the bench, by that point in the game Clarkson had become one of the team’s two most effective scorers. Clarkson finished the game with 19 points on 8-14 shooting from the field. He was 4-8 from the field in the fourth quarter.
Osman, Sexton and Love, who figure to be the team’s cornerstones for the foreseeable future, were also scoring effectively for the Cavaliers.
Though Osman went 2-6 from the field in the fourth quarter and Love went 0-3, they were the team’s leading scorers with 22 points and 25 points respectively.
Sexton, who went 5-6 from the field in the fourth quarter, finished the game with 14 points on 6-9 shooting from the field.
In what was the first game of the season that the trio tried to close out as a unit, Cavaliers head coach
Tyronn Lue gave the Cleveland brass (and fanbase) a sneak peek at what could turn into the team’s new Big 3.
Love, the team’s leader and first option, has commanded more defensive attention than any other player on the roster and has slowly started to return to the mindset of a first option.
His efficiency (29.7 percent from the field) and defense need to improve but it’s more likely that the former will be fixed than the latter based on their career production. Nonetheless, averaging 23.0 points, 13.0 rebounds and 4.5 assists per game through the first two games of the season (and nearly posting a 20-20 double-double against the Timberwolves), “Minnesota Love” has flashed early.
Osman and Sexton represent the team’s young core.
The also symbolize the team’s fighting spirit; their mantra for the 2018-19 season may as well be a personal slogan for these two. Both players give their all to every possession they’re on the floor and are fearless, no matter the situation.
Osman, an all-around talent who has emerged as the team’s primary facilitator early in the season, is already earning national recognition and respect. If you were outside of Northeast Ohio, you may have never heard of Osman before this season. Even if you’ve been around Cleveland your whole life, you may not have seen him play for Turkey’s Anadolu Efes.
However, he’s making his name known now after averaged 19.5 points, 6.5 rebounds, 6.0 assists and 1.0 steal per game in the first two games of the season.
Sexton is a developing young talent at point guard but his speed benefits his attacking style while his newfound ability to hit jump shots with efficiency has him showing shades of his mentor Chris Paul. Sexton isn’t the level of playmaker that Paul is of course but he’s shown so many flashes of being more than just a slasher that you’re going to have to start respecting his jumper.
As a facilitator, Sexton has yet to be put in positions to truly effect the game with his passing as he’s often playing in second unit lineups with Clarkson that require them to score at a high rate. However, he’s an intelligent player who can make solid passes in the pick-and-roll. He needs to gain more experience and improve his basketball IQ so that he can think ahead of the defense, which would lead to more skip passes and kick-outs.
Nonetheless, for a 19-year-old player who’s manning one of the most difficult positions to master, Sexton’s ability to shoot 50.0 percent from the field while averaging 11.5 points per game has been impressive. In fact, Sexton is averaged 20.2 points per 36 minutes.
While Love’s efficiency is likely to increase, Sexton and Osman’s are likely to decrease; all three players are on the verge of extremes in their efficiency (or inefficiency).
However, if the Cavaliers game against the Timberwolves was a sign of things to come, outscoring Minnesota by nine points in the second half (28-27 in the fourth quarter), the play of their potential Big 3 inspires confidence.
After scoring a combined 47 points in the season debut, the trio combined for 61 points on Friday. This is a season of wins and lessons and, so far, Cleveland have learned quite a bit about their cornerstone players.