As expected, the loss of hometown hero LeBron James sent the Cleveland Cavaliers back towards the bottom of the league in the 2018-19 NBA season. With Kevin Love missing the majority of the year due to injury and the Cavs looking to give more playing time to youngsters like rookie Collin Sexton and Cedi Osman, Cleveland won just 19 games and earned a share of the top odds at landing the No.1 overall pick at the NBA Draft Lottery.
Unfortunately for the Cavs and their fans, the team fell out of the top three and plummeted to the No. 5 spot in the draft, where their future selection is abundantly less clear than if they had landed the top spot and had the chance to select Zion Williamson.
Cleveland has already gotten busy this offseason, hiring former University of Michigan head coach John Beilien to take over and making it clear that they would have to be overwhelmed by any potential offers for Love.
The team has also flirted with the idea of moving Sexton to the two guard position, which would seem to make them an ideal candidate to select a point guard in the draft.
The Cavs have been rumored to be high on North Carolina point guard Coby White, but could White and Sexton coexist in the same system?
Bringing White into the fold would make moving Sexton to the two a reality. On the surface, this might seem a bit confusing.
Sexton is the smaller man, at just 6’2″ and 190 pounds. Although there are some small two guards in the league, it would be a safe bet to say that Sexton may have the smallest build at that position of any starting shooting guard in the league.
Conversely, White would be one of the tallest point guards in the league (at 6’5″) while also being probably the fastest player in this draft. His size and quickness would more than make up for his lack of brute strength, and he could certainly give opposing point guards a hard time.
Defensively, however, this would cause matchup problems. Sexton would be very undersized as a shooting guard. And while White has the size to switch on to multiple defenders, he also does not have the build to keep guys out of the paint.
Of course, Beilein prides himself on running rotations that are strong in terms of team defense. But Cleveland lacks the kind of versatile personnel that would make up for White and Sexton’s intangible deficiencies.
Alternatively, leaving Sexton at the one and drafting someone like Jarrett Culver or De’Andre Hunter to play the two would be an instant upgrade on the defensive end while offering some offensive upside.
The Cavs want to move Sexton to shooting guard because he can knock down threes and is more of a pure scorer than playmaker, but the defensive issues that might come from drafting White and running them both together are too large to ignore.
Defensive issues aside, this would truly be an intriguing duo on the offensive side of the ball. White loves to play up-tempo and start the break in transition, and Sexton proved that he could be a lethal scorer in the open floor. The question is whether or not they would share the ball.
White is mostly a ball-dominant, scoring point guard rather than a pure point guard. When he gets out on the break, he is looking to take the ball right into the teeth of the defense. That might seem ideal, given Sexton’s ability to shoot from beyond the arc. But the Cavs would need to adjust in terms of floor spacing.
Similarly, how up-tempo is Beilein likely to want to play? His schemes at Michigan were far more traditional in the half court, often centering around big men like Moritz Wagner and Jon Teske. Will he want to give more touches to Love and Tristan Thompson on the block?
Should Beilein elect to play at a faster pace, this might be the pick to make from an offensive standpoint. Both White and Sexton can get out and run, and both players are equally adept at spotting up and knocking down shots from the perimeter.
Again, however, it is a question of personnel and fit. The Cavaliers do not want to stagnate Sexton’s growth, they want to build on it. Scoring guards like D’Angelo Russell were not instantly good playmakers, but just this past year Russell averaged seven assists when surrounded by shooters. And the Cavs certainly have some shooters (though they could use even more).
While it is interesting to envision a backcourt of White and Sexton, they both need a lot of the ball, and running them together might play out of Beilein’s hands.