Cavs’ 2019 first pick should not have nearly the workload Collin Sexton did as rookie

Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images
Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images /

The Cleveland Cavaliers got a quality scoring output of Collin Sexton in his rookie season, but Sexton had a huge workload, and neither of Cleveland’s two draft selections should have nearly the same workload Sexton did in year one, which is likely to their benefit.

The Cleveland Cavaliers have two selections in the 2019 NBA Draft, as you probably are well aware of at this point, and those are fifth and 26th overall.

There is plenty of speculation that Cleveland could be moving around in the draft via trade/trades, as we’ve mentioned (and will continue to emphasize), but one thing does seem to be the case regardless of where they pick.

In his rookie campaign in 2018-19, Cleveland guard Collin Sexton had 16.7 points on 48.0% effective field goal shooting, but did have a huge workload, as he had the second-highest usage rate on the roster among qualified players (a rate of 24.5%), according to I excluded star big Kevin Love in that qualified usage category, as he was only active in 22 games for the Cleveland Cavaliers last season, mostly due to reported toe surgery on his left foot.

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At any rate, Sexton did show considerable growth, as we’ve illustrated here at KJG, over the course of the season, and really put it all together as a perimeter scorer post-All-Star break, and that has led to optimism among fans of the Cavaliers in the process.

That being said, I wouldn’t expect Sexton to have nearly that high of a usage rate next year as a young guard, with new head coach John Beilein and his staff likely wanting more scoring balance due to more ball and man movement and hopefully, better spacing with Love more healthy in 2019-20 and years to come (as in playing around 50 or so games at least).

Along with hopefully a healthier Love along with Sexton, with the secondary playmaking of Cedi Osman, who averaged 13.0 points on 50.4% effective field goal shooting (and who realistically showed better passing vision than Sexton though he averaged 2.6 assists combined to Sexton’s 2.9 per game, per, Cleveland’s first 2019 NBA Draft selection shouldn’t have to have nearly the workload of Sexton in year one (who trailed only Jordan Clarkson in usage and scoring among Cleveland’s qualified players).

That number five overall pick should be a wing, in my opinion, and could feasibly end up being Duke’s Cam Reddish, Texas Tech’s Jarrett Culver, Virginia’s De’Andre Hunter, or international prospect Sekou Doumbouya.

Although the Cavaliers could also reasonably entertain drafting North Carolina’s Coby White, a combo guard, who reportedly could have a promise from a lottery team that picks before the Chicago Bulls at number seven, per the Chicago Tribune’s K.C. Johnson, I’d rather see the Cleveland Cavaliers select a wing, and ideally, either Reddish or Culver, who both project to be plus defenders on the perimeter right away.

Reddish, who had an underwhelming season at Duke playing as the third offensive option behind Zion Williamson and RJ Barrett with 13.5 points per game (including a two-point hit rate of just 39.4%, per Sports Reference) could greatly benefit from better spacing for off-the-catch looks (he shot 33.3% from three-point land on Duke, but has a promising release and transferable mechanics) on Cleveland with Osman and Love.

Plus, if Sexton can continue to display some reliability from deep (he shot 40.2% in his first year), he could play into that well for Reddish to get more open looks, too.

Though Reddish shouldn’t be relied on to playmake a ton for others, he should get some opportunities to take advantage of bigs and/or smaller guards in pick-and-roll scoring situations, which would enable Reddish to use stepbacks and ideally as a counter, hang dribbles to get into the mid-range area at times as well from change of speed, where he should be able to use his smooth, effortless shooting stroke to get jumpers off with defenders a bit off balance.

When it comes to the potential of Culver offensively on the Cavaliers and their new more motion-driven system under Beilein, I would expect that Culver should get opportunities to come off down and back screens to drive downhill with momentum going into the catch and get some perimeter chances off flare screens from Larry Nance Jr. and others off drive-and-kick deliveries from Sexton, Osman and potentially Matthew Dellavedova and/or Clarkson (though both are on expiring deals and could realistically be dealt in the offseason).

Even if the Cavaliers did eventually trade up for Barrett (who Cleveland is reportedly very fond of, per Basketball Insiders’ Steve Kyler) I wouldn’t expect him to have nearly the same usage rate of Sexton did in his first NBA season and have the ball in his hands as much as he did at Duke (though he has very good passing vision that is encouraging for the next level).

Beilein and his staff will try to instill more passing and cutting-driven offense that will likely involve more scoring/playmaking balance, instead of as much matchup-hunting and isolation as Cleveland had last season; only three NBA teams had a higher frequency of isolation offense last year, per Synergy Sports Technology, and Cleveland ranked in just the 17th percentile in those situations.

Furthermore, it seems Beilein will try to have the Cleveland Cavaliers, and Sexton, in particular, trust the pass more in the coming years, and I would imagine that would bode well for a potential first selection of theirs in the 2019 NBA Draft, such as Reddish or Culver, who both could have decent offensive production in their rookie seasons, but should not be relied to be primary playmakers and/or lead scorers on a nightly basis.

Sexton often should have made decisions sooner and given the ball up to others to initiate earlier in the shot clock, but he seemed to make better choices later on in the season as a playmaker, and hopefully Beilein can enable Sexton to continue on that trend of more unselfish play, leading to more sustainable offense.

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Once again, allowing Cleveland’s draft picks to ease into being contributors on the offensive end in their first year and not rushed into a high-usage role will definitely be helped by Love staying reasonably healthy, but even if not, Beilein’s offense should put shooters and cutters in better position to get more consistent high-quality looks as opposed to last season, which often had way too much over-dribbling.