The future is bright for Collin Sexton

The Cavs' rookie continues to improve

James Rapien
March 12, 2019 - 12:25 am
Mar 11, 2019; Cleveland, OH, USA; Cleveland Cavaliers guard Collin Sexton (2) drives against Toronto Raptors guard Jeremy Lin (17) in the fourth quarter at Quicken Loans Arena. Mandatory Credit: David Richard-USA TODAY Sports

© David Richard-USA TODAY Sports

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Cleveland, OH (92.3 The Fan) – Don't look now, but the 'Young Bull' may have to change his nickname soon. Collin Sexton is growing everyday and his performance against the Raptors on Monday night was proof of the strides he's made. 

The Cavs' rookie led all scorers with 28 points in the 126-101 win over Toronto. He also chipped in four rebounds and five assists against one of the premiere teams in the Eastern Conference. There were moments when he was the best player on a court that was also occupied by Kawhi Leonard and Kevin Love. 

"I really thought tonight was probably as complete of a game as I've seen Collin play," head coach Larry Drew said. "I thought Collin did another good job as far as mixing up penetration whether to finish or get into the paint and make the kick out. I thought he was really good at that tonight. I thought defensively he did a really good job.

"When the game does start to slow down in his eyes, now not only does he recognize those situations, but he instinctively makes the right play."

Sexton is one of the fastest players in the NBA. Speed isn't always a good thing, especially when you're young. Sexton admits the game has slowed down in recent weeks and it has led to his improved play. He's averaging 19.6 points in his last 14 games. He's showing everyone why the Cavaliers drafted him eighth overall. 

The rookie has taken his fair share of criticism this season. Some of it was valid, but he was also put into an extremely difficult situation. Sexton was drafted by the Cavaliers in June. The best player on the planet left a few weeks later. The organization tried to salvage things by signing Larry Nance Jr. and Kevin Love to contract extensions. Love went down four games into the season and Tyronn Lue was fired six games into his rookie campaign. 

Some will say those are just excuses, but Sexton, who turned 20 in January, has a lot to learn about the NBA. The Cavaliers had to know that drafting a one-and-done player from Alabama, a football school, would come with its' growing pains. 

"You're around a bunch of older guys," Jordan Clarkson said on Monday at shootaround. "There's an adjustment to make. Especially coming from, what'd he do – six months of college? He probably didn't even go to the second semester of classes and then jumping straight here. It's definitely an adjustment and you see him falling into it right now.

"I feel like the sky is the limit for him."

Sexton is far from a finished product. Unfortunately for him, there are fans that expected him to be Kyrie Irving from day one. Those were unrealistic expectations. 

He's showing flashes of what he can become. There isn't one person in the Cavs' organization who doubts his work ethic. Sexton shows up early and stays late. The extra work is paying off. 

Sexton's made 39 percent of his three-point attempts this season, after shooting 34 percent from beyond-the-arc in his one season at Alabama. The rookie has also improved from the free-throw line, raising his average to 83 percent. He shot 77 percent from the charity stripe in college. Sexton's already broke and is going to shatter Irving's record for most threes made by a Cavs rookie.

Let's take a second and go back to June 21, 2018 when the Cavaliers drafted Sexton eighth overall. If someone told you he would average over 15 points-per-game, break the Cavs' rookie record for threes made and improve over the course of his rookie season, you would've taken it, right? 

It's easy to criticize the kid, but before you do, take a step back and think about how bright his future could be. The 'Young Bull' continues to improve, which is a great sign for him and the future of the Cavaliers.