Collin Sexton hoping hard work pays off in year two

Sexton watched over 1,000 hours of film during the offseason

James Rapien
September 30, 2019 - 4:50 pm

INDEPENDENCE, OH – Collin Sexton walked to the podium on Monday afternoon smiling from ear-to-ear. The second-year pro looked confident and sure of himself, which is something he struggled with during his rookie campaign.

He focused on improving on both ends of the court during the offseason. Sexton knew he has to get better defensively if he was going to reach his full potential – especially in John Beilein’s guard-oriented system.

Sexton looked noticeably bigger and more muscular than he was a season ago.

 “I felt like I needed to get stronger,” he admitted. “I felt like I needed to get stronger so I could finish around the rim a lot better and fight around screens.”

Sexton knows there are plenty of parts of his game that can improve. He spent hours watching other guards in the NBA in hopes of becoming a better playmaker and defender.

“I watched a lot of film. Over 1,000 hours of film,” he said.

Damian Lillard, CJ McCollum, Kyle Lowry and Fred VanVleet are just a few of the guards he looked at this offseason. In a perfect world, the Cavs’ backcourt would be as explosive as Portland’s and as fundamentally sound on defense as the Raptors were last season. That’s not a realistic expectation, but Sexton is studying the right players.

He says he’ll be more focused on defense than he was as a rookie. He talked about becoming a better defender early and often during his press conference. It’s why he watched so much film. Sexton has to be able to execute the game plan, especially if he’s spending a lot of time on the court with rookie Darius Garland. The duo will be smaller than a lot of their opponents, so effort and scheme will go a long way this season.

His teammates noticed the work he put in during the offseason. Sexton’s attitude sets a good example for Kevin Porter Jr., Dylan Windler and Garland.

“He took pride in his body,” Tristan Thompson said. The NBA is a grind. For him, it’s great that he put his body first.”

Sexton played in all 82 games last season, making 72 starts and averaging 31.8 minutes per contest. His durability is big not only for the team, but for his development. It’s one thing to watch film. It’s another to be able to play every night and gain valuable experience.

Sexton also knows his passing had to improve. He left a lot of plays on the floor last season, averaging just three assists-per-game. He didn’t always make the right pass and there were times when he’d force the issue, instead of making the right basketball play. The hours and hours of film study were to give him a boost on both ends of the court.

“Making the right reads and the reads that I should’ve been making last year that I didn’t see,” he said. “Now I’m able to see just by watching a lot of the film.”

Sexton has plenty of talent. The former eighth overall pick averaged 16.7 points-per-game last season on 43 percent shooting. There’s a reason he made the All-NBA Rookie Second Team last season. It was a great draft class full of young talent. He recovered from a shaky start to have a successful rookie campaign.  

One thing that stands out about Sexton is his work ethic. He’s willing to put the time in to improve his craft. People who put the time in and work extremely hard usually find success.

The Cavs hope Sexton’s work pays off and helps them succeed this season and beyond.