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Collin Sexton is fun to watch: While We’re Waiting

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Happy Tuesday, WFNY!

After writing for this site for more than ten years, I often find it difficult to feel like I’m offering a fresh perspective. I often feel like a broken record, covering the same sports, the same topics, the same seasons, etc, etc. Sure, the names and faces change, but more or less, the yearly sports cycle is the same.

I’m sure I’ve written this before. In fact, I’m pretty sure I’ve written this every year at this time of the year. We have reached the MLB All-Star break, which means that this week officially kicks off my absolute least favorite period of sports.

Now that the World Cup is over and the Cavs’ Summer League is over1, all we pretty much have is baseball. We still have The Open this weekend to hold us over, but then that’s it. Now, nothing against the Cleveland Indians, who I have no problem watching, but baseball, in general, doesn’t do a whole lot for me. I’ve touched on this plenty in the past but watching baseball games that don’t involve the Indians is tough for me.

I’m going to keep this pretty short today. I don’t have a whole lot to say. So I suppose I’ll just talk a little bit about Collin Sexton. The Cavaliers wrapped up their Summer League season last night with a highly entertaining loss to the Los Angeles Lakers in double overtime of the semifinals. The Lakers have become something of a Vegas Summer League juggernaut. They won the title last year with Lonzo Ball earning MVP honors. They’ve won 12 straight Summer League games and Josh Hart2 is poised to win MVP this year3. The Lakers were the top seed while the Cavaliers were in the 12 seed.

I don’t tend to place a whole lot of value in Summer League as a predictor of actual NBA success. However, that doesn’t mean there’s nothing to take away from it. And certainly, as fans, we would prefer the draft picks our teams select perform well in Summer League. For the Cavaliers, their draft pick Collin Sexton certainly gave them something to be excited about.

Sexton has been a standout all Summer League, showcasing the traits he was heralded for coming out of Alabama, as well as the shortcomings that worry some. But through it all, he was definitely fun to watch and gives fans some real excitement for the upcoming season. Not ‘LeBron James in the NBA Finals’ kind of excitement, of course, but it’s certainly better than 2010 when the Cavaliers didn’t even have a draft pick.

Sexton showcased his extreme competitiveness throughout Summer League. He has a tenacity and a will to play harder than everyone else. It may have just been Summer League, but Sexton was playing like it was the NBA Finals. And when someone challenged him, Sexton was always eager to accept the challenge. He showed a talent for getting to the rim and he was a better finisher than I expected.

However, that doesn’t mean question marks and concerns don’t exist. His shot still looks extremely unorthodox and it’s fair to wonder if he’ll ever develop a consistent jumper without overhauling his shooting mechanics. His floor vision sometimes looked suspect as well. Sure, he missed out on some assists due to teammates missing good shots, but his passing, in general, wasn’t anything exceptional. At times he could develop tunnel vision, too, where he would get locked into the challenge of a one-on-one battle and he would forget to look for teammates.

More or less, he played stylistically like you would expect if you read the scouting report on him. But actually watching him play is a lot more fun than reading a report on him. He’s going to drive some fans crazy with his momentary lapses of inefficient basketball, and his competitive fire will probably get him in trouble from time to time. But that same fire will also help him deliver spectacular moments that fans will rally behind.

In many ways, he reminds me of Dion Waiters. Waiters was about as polarizing as it gets. Dion’s competitiveness was both a blessing and a curse. He would have flashes where you would see why the Cavaliers picked him so high, and then he would have moments where he felt nearly unplayable. I see some of the same polarizing traits in Sexton, as well. The hope here will be that with a more veteran roster with real leadership than what the Cavaliers had when Kyrie Irving and Waiters ran the team, the Cavaliers will get more “good Dion” out of Sexton.

And, I mean, if we’re getting this out of Sexton in Summer League, I cannot wait to see what we get in the regular season when games actually matter:

We all know the Cavaliers are not going to be the same anymore. But in the spirit of moving on, we have to find things to have fun with and to be excited about. I’m in no way ready to declare Sexton as an All-Star caliber player now, but what I saw from him in Summer League was very encouraging and I think the Cavs have a player who can, at the very least, develop into a really nice player who can play for a playoff team someday. Either way, I suspect he’s going to be fun to watch and I think most Cavs fans are going to fall in love with his attitude and competitiveness. It’s going to be a very different season for the Cavaliers, but I’m actually pretty excited to see how everything unfolds for this franchise.

  1. Summer League now officially replaces free agency, fretting over the Warriors, and keeping an eye for which Cavs are working out and with whom as my off-season basketball fix. I’m not sure which is better. Or worse, I suppose. []
  2. It’s pretty ridiculous that Hart is playing in Summer League. This is a guy who played in 63 games last year, starting 23 of them, while averaging 23 minutes per game. Those type of players with that much NBA experience typically don’t play in Summer League, but whatever. How can attract stars like LeBron James if you’re not throwing ringers into Summer League action, am I right? []
  3. Although if the Cavaliers used their ringer, Cedi Osman, all Summer League like the Lakers did, I’m pretty sure Cedi would have won MVP just based on sheer awesomeness! []