Cavs taking Baker-like approach with rookie Sexton

First-year PG will have to wait to see starting lineup

Alex Hooper
October 11, 2018 - 2:09 pm
Oct 6, 2018; Cleveland, OH, USA; Cleveland Cavaliers guard Collin Sexton (2) drives to the basket against the Boston Celtics during the first half at Quicken Loans Arena.

© Ken Blaze-USA TODAY Sports

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Independence, OH (92.3 The Fan) – Cleveland has gotten to see the effects a rookie quarterback can have on their offense in 2018, and they have also seen that rookie have to sit and wait for their chance to make an impact.

The Cavaliers hope that rookie guard Collin Sexton can have the same success in quarterbacking their offense that Baker Mayfield has had down the road for the Browns. Head Coach Ty Lue also plans to take a similar route with his top pick as Hue Jackson did with his.

Sexton will not be the Cavaliers’ starting point guard when they open up their season on Wednesday in Toronto, barring injury. Unlike Mayfield, the 19-year-old out of Alabama will play from the get go, he will just have to wait a little to get in.

Veteran George Hill will start at the point to begin the year, as Sexton gets eased in.

“We just have to see how it goes,” Lue said. “Collin has done a great job of just understanding the game, understanding running the offense, understanding picking and choosing your spots. G-Hill is a good veteran to learn from. Just watching him and talking to Collin every day, and just teaching him is good for him. His day is going to come, his chance is going to come, his opportunity is going to come.”

When asked if the same reservations Jackson and the Browns had in starting Mayfield off the jump applied to NBA rookies like Sexton, Lue dismissed the charge.

“Not with this kid, I don’t think.”

Lue admitted that Sexton’s growth through training camp and three pre-season games has been ahead of even what the former NBA point guard expected out of his pupil. The insinuation was that the floor general will get the opportunity to move up the ranks.

He may well get that chance with George Hill’s $19 million salary able to come off the books with a $1 million buyout in the off-season, making this contract an enticing piece on the trade market.

If the Cavaliers brass decides they want to acquire what they can for Hill’s deal and elevate Sexton quickly, that upwards trajectory will have to continue. The front office has shown a desire to also make the playoffs, and until Sexton can match Hill’s output, that goal may outweigh trade value.

If Lue’s evaluation is correct, the team could get the best of both worlds.

“He’s very smart, he picks things up quick, he knows when he makes a mistake,” Lue said of Sexton, also citing his work ethic. “That’s good when you make a mistake and you catch (yourself), ‘Oh, I made a mistake.’ He’s catching himself. The biggest thing is being smart, and then having the work ethic he does. That’s a big advantage.”

Improving Sexton’s game also includes finding the best ways in which to use the uber-aggressive scorer, and which teammates to pair him with. In the early going, Sexton actually named Hill as one of his favorite pairings, alongside Larry Nance, Jr.

While his basketball IQ continues to improve, the 183 lb. teenager noted that his biggest adjustment on the floor has been physically. The rigors of the NBA schedule are one thing, but the game desires much more in terms of playing through screens.

Sexton says that too will come with time.

“Not really a surprise, but that’s the biggest thing, how physical the guys are,” he said. “Not most difficult part, you’ve just got to get used to it, because in college, you don’t run as many screens. Now we’re just trying to get more repetition.”

Already, the rookie says he has progressed most as a leader, something his football counterpart seemed to do naturally. Whether he will lead by example will be seen over increasing increments.