Former Cleveland Cavaliers Head Coach Ty Lue said this season won’t be measured in wins and losses, but rather “wins and lessons.” With that in mind, and in honor of his memory, WFNY is going to follow along with what we learn every week.
After weathering the storm of early-season disaster and drama, the Cleveland Cavaliers have sprinkled a few wins among their many lessons. The addition of Alec Burks as part of the trade that sent Kyle Korver to Utah played a major role, providing the Cavs another ball handler who even dropped a game-winning shot against the Brooklyn Nets. Tristan Thompson has played at an incredible level, giving a steadying force and providing second-chance opportunities to an offense that struggles with efficiency. But as Burks gets added to trade rumors and Thompson looks to miss the next two-to-four weeks with a foot injury, it will be the emerging Collin Sexton that will have to continue this string of solid play.
What have we learned about the Young Bull in this short season?
He can score. Sexton jumped from 12 points per game in October, to 16.1 in November, and now 18.8 in December prior to Monday’s game against Milwaukee. He has been aggressive and found ways to consistently get the ball in the hoop. His USG% (percent of possessions he uses while on the court) has jumped from 22.7 in October to 27.1 in December. He is taking control of this team and this offense.
He might be able to shoot. The knock on Sexton coming out of Alabama was his jump shot, but thus far in his NBA career, Sexton has been a solid shooter. The right-hand axis below shows his attempts per game doubling as the season has gone on, while his field goal percentages have maintained a very solid level. His 53% true shooting percentage is a great mark for a guard.
He might shoot too much. Sure, it’s great that Sexton is shooting so well, but the types of shots he is taking are worrisome. Among guards who play more than 15 minutes per game, Sexton is second in shots per game between 16-24 feet.
He ranks first by a mile in percent of points that come from mid-range.
It would be nice to see a jump in the number of threes and free throws Sexton attempts per game, as those are the easiest paths to efficient offense down the road. As it stands now, Sexton is trending in the wrong direction in terms of long-term efficiency.
He isn’t doing much else. As the rookie point guard’s minutes have increased, his secondary stats have not kept pace with his scoring. The increased USG% should result in a bump in assists, but Sexton has remained at virtually the same assists per game throughout the season. While his teammates have a hand in that, his secondary and potential assist numbers tell a similar story. The jump in minutes should help him in the steals and rebounds department, but again, there has been little bump, there.
He’s good for a rookie point guard, which is to say he’s bad. Sexton is a very, very young prospect and seeing his jump shot materialize this early is the number one takeaway of this season. He clearly belongs on the court and if he can shoot, will have a long NBA career. The secondary box scores stats and the focus on efficiency can happen as he progresses, and as the team (and coaching staff) around him becomes more stable. Rookie point guards are always terrible, and he is outperforming what should have reasonably been expected of him. Prior to the season, I shared Dennis Smith Jr. and De’Aaron Fox’s rookie numbers for context, and Sexton is keeping pace with exactly where he should be at this point.