Cavaliers: Grading Collin Sexton’s 2019-20 season thus far

Cleveland Cavaliers guard Collin Sexton reacts after scoring against the Atlanta Hawks. (Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images)
Cleveland Cavaliers guard Collin Sexton reacts after scoring against the Atlanta Hawks. (Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images) /
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Cleveland Cavaliers
Cleveland Cavaliers guard Collin Sexton defends. (Photo by Vaughn Ridley/Getty Images) /

Looking at Sexton’s defensive play

At this point, while Sexton still gets plenty of scrutiny it seems for his defense, he’s shown growth on that end as well to me.

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No, Sexton’s defensive rating of 117.0 thus far this season has not been a ringing endorsement for his play there.

Clearly, though, Sexton’s been playing a considerable amount of time against opposing 2’s, and it’s obvious that Cleveland needs to find an upgrade in terms of the team and positional-defensive sense than Cedi Osman defensively at the 3, which has not aided Sexton in hedging/stunting to help.

Cleveland not having much legitimate rim protection in a vast majority of instances, and even with the fit with Drummond potentially a bit murky, hasn’t helped Sexton, either.

That being said, Sexton has shown better feel in anticipating to wall off drivers, and he’s deterred pull-up shooters more from three-point range, which have been a huge plus to me.

Even while his team defensive feel as a rotator and ability to get through off-ball screens needs plenty of work, Sexton had been showing growth in terms of deterring pull-ups with active contests, and he’s walled off drives better this season with his improved strength.

Along with that, Sexton had been stunting better as an adjacent perimeter player on the strong side on a number of occasions, as evidenced by Sexton having 65 steals through 65 games to this point in 2019-20. That’s a much higher rate than his rookie year, when he had just 44 steals through all of 2018-19.

To me, though he needs to improve in getting through off-ball screens to deter shooters and he’ll at times be late when tagging cutters, and his contests off-ball as a rotator can be occasionally undisciplined, Sexton’s growth on-ball to me in staying attached better to deter drivers has been a key positive.

I firmly believe if Cleveland gets a better defensive wing with Sexton out there a bunch, such as Auburn’s Isaac Okoro in the 2020 NBA Draft, or perhaps a high ceiling defensive big such as USC’s Onyeka Okongwu, that we’ll really start to see Sexton be an impact defender fairly soon.

Sexton’s defensive grade thus far in 2019-20: B