After a long and frustrating season, the Cleveland Cavaliers were finally able to bring the Kyrie Irving saga to a close. The biggest piece of the trade, the 2018 Brooklyn Nets draft pick, landed eighth overall and the Cavs selected Alabama point guard Collin Sexton.
While Sexton may not have been the sexiest pick, as Michael Porter Jr was still on the board, it is arguably the most sensible one. The tough-nosed guard went from a relatively unknown high schooler to the eighth overall pick in just one collegiate season. This is in part thanks to the tutelage of Crimson Tide coach Avery Johnson, but there is plenty to like about Sexton as well.
The biggest and most obvious thing about Sexton’s game is his tenacity. He has shown this all of his life, whether it was in high school:
this is the only reason you need collin sexton on your basketball team pic.twitter.com/z1SmWA8k5n
— Harry Lyles Jr., cheering for Nigeria 🇳🇬 (@harrylylesjr) June 22, 2018
While grassroots basketball people knew about his tenacity for some period of time, his mythology truly began last season.
As everyone might recall, he lived a basketball lover’s dream in the weirdest of ways.
In college, where he nearly carried Alabama to a win over Minnesota when he only had three teammates:
He even took Irving’s old number, which is a pretty bold move considering Irving’s place in franchise history. The grit and tenacity that Sexton carries with him on the court is something special, especially considering how soft-spoken he is off of it. The Cavs used to have a mean-mugging, ultra-confident point guard in Irving and with Sexton clearly the heir-apparent, things can carry on as normal.
The reason Sexton has such a fiery persona on the floor? He can back it up with his game. In his one season with the Crimson Tide, Sexton averaged 19.6 points on 44.7 percent shooting but only connected on 33.6 percent of his three-point attempts. But, not everything is lost with Sexton’s jump shot as he connected on 77.8 percent of his free throws which is always a welcome sign for improved shooting. In his introductory press conference, Sexton admitted that he needs to work on his three-point shot but again showcased his swagger by promising to improve it.
But, what he can do is attack the basket with reckless abandon, thanks to his freak athleticism and blitzkrieg speed. He is a crafty finisher at the rim and will make plenty of acrobatic moves that the Cavs did not see at all last year. When he cannot finish with a layup or floater, Sexton can also throw the hammer down with a nasty dunk. The best of his career was the dunk that won him the 2017 McDonald’s All-American Slam Dunk Championship:
It is pretty clear at this point that Sexton thrives off using his energy and with posterizing dunks like that, Wine and Gold nation will be just as jazzed.
While his offense is only polished at the rim, Sexton is already an accomplished defender the entire length of the floor. This in part thanks to his 6-foot-6 wingspan which combined with his tenacity provides a lethal duo. The idea of the Cavs having a stout defensive-minded guard is pretty refreshing considering how many turnstiles have started over the last decade.
With plenty of swagger, a budding offensive game, and polished defense, Sexton honestly will be the franchise’s point guard for the foreseeable future. And it could not have come at a better time. Right now the team is at a crossroads on whether or not LeBron James will be playing in Cleveland next season.
With drafting Sexton, the Cavs hope that it is enough to convince James to stay. He would have a proper point guard to play alongside, and Sexton is a lot better than George Hill or Jose Calderon. Sexton himself even knew this and used it as part of his recruiting pitch moments after he was drafted:
“‘Man, LeBron, let’s do it,’ Sexton said during ESPN’s telecast of the draft, which was held at the Barclays Center in New York. ‘Let’s do it,’ Sexton continued. “I seen you needed a few pieces, one or two pieces this past season, and let’s do it. Let’s go back to the Finals.'”
But, maybe King James does not want to have to wait on a rookie point guard and elects to leave. If he does, the Cavs are still in a great position.
With James gone, the team will likely begin to tear down their former championship roster but Sexton will still remain. He will be a franchise cornerstone with plenty of minutes to use to properly develop.
When Collin Sexton had his name called by NBA Commissioner Adam Silver, he was instantly put in a high-pressure situation with the Cavs. The pressure to play alongside LeBron James. The weight to live up to the void left by Kyrie Irving (and even wearing his old #2). The burden to be the face of the franchise in the event James leaves this summer. But, despite all of this, Sexton will only thrive.
Collin Sexton oozes swagger and has the game to back it up. The Cavs are now set for the foreseeable future at point guard and have a young blossoming star in Sexton.