Cavs’ Collin Sexton would fit right in with Michael Jordan as teammate

Cleveland Cavaliers big man Larry Nance Jr. high-fives Cleveland guard Collin Sexton in-game. (Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images)
Cleveland Cavaliers big man Larry Nance Jr. high-fives Cleveland guard Collin Sexton in-game. (Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images) /

When discussing the topic of “The Last Dance,” something that sticks out to me is that Cleveland Cavaliers guard Collin Sexton would fit right in with Michael Jordan as his teammate.

It’s unfortunate for us NBA fans, and even Cleveland Cavaliers fans, that The Last Dance, a 10-part documentary series featuring the 1997-98 Chicago Bulls and of which Michael Jordan was in a leading part, has concluded. The syndication of the docuseries wrapped up with its’ ninth and 10th episodes on Sunday, and it was a smashing hit.

With it being uncertain at this juncture if the current NBA season will resume at some point down the road, in relation to the novel coronavirus pandemic, it was even better timing for us to see plenty of insight about Jordan and more on those 1990’s Bulls. A ton of the doc featured flashbacks to other times than just that last season of the Bulls’ dynasty.

What is a key takeaway to me, as a Cavs fan, from the doc, though, is that Collin Sexton, who has a truly tireless work ethic, would fit right in as a teammate of MJ’s, from a hypothetical sense.

Sexton, who has seemingly silenced many of his naysayers throughout his second season so far with the Cavs, has worked so hard to continually get better and prove people wrong. Even just in his second season, the young Cavalier has done so, and he’s worked his way into being a consistent three-point shooter.

That was a weakness of Sexton’s coming into the NBA, as he only shot 33.6 percent from three-point land in his one collegiate season at Alabama, and it was unclear if Sexton could be a reliable catch-and-shoot shooter, at least, from beyond the arc.

In his first season, though, Sexton did do so, shooting 40.2 percent from three-point range, and though it is more of a three-point-centric league, Sexton did also set the Cavs’ rookie record for three-pointers made in a season.

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Thus far in his second season, Sexton has hit a robust 38.0 percent of his deep attempts, too, per Basketball Reference. He’s hit 42.1 percent of his catch-and-shoot triple attempts as well, per’s shot tracking data.

In addition, thanks to his improved strength coming into his second season, Sexton has gotten more efficient as a finisher, and has even had 23 dunks so far in 2019-20. His passing and cutting feel have improved, too, and in Sexton’s last 15 games leading into the NBA season’s hiatus, he had 4.3 assists per outing, as compared to 3.0 on the season.

Plus, although his feel in the team sense does need to improve, which is understandable for a 21-year-old guard, Sexton’s had noticeable growth in terms of on-ball defense on the perimeter in his second season.

His anticipation in walling off drivers and having better sense in closing out to pull-ups has paid off, and Sexton’s better ball pressure has led to him having 1.0 steals per contest in his second season, as compared to 0.5 per outing in his rookie year.

So with The Last Dance being fresh in our minds, while not necessarily excluding other current Cleveland Cavaliers players, it’s clear to me that Sexton would align especially well with Jordan if they were teammates in a hypothetical/retroactive sense.

Jordan was incredibly hard on his teammates, and that was well-documented in the doc; MJ demanded excellence and embodied the win-at-all-cost mentality. Former teammates of his, such as Horace Grant, B.J. Armstrong, John Paxson and Steve Kerr, among others, had a bunch to add along those lines.

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Jordan’s style of leadership, whether it rubbed some the wrong way or not, played a crucial role in the Bulls winning six NBA championships in the ’90’s, and they went six-for-six in the NBA Finals.

What has again jumped out to me after watching The Last Dance as a Cleveland Cavaliers fan, though, is that Sexton would fit right in as a Jordan teammate. Frankly, saying Sexton has a tireless work ethic might be underselling his commitment to the game of basketball he loves so dearly.

Now I know Sexton would have to change his style to be more of an off-ball contributor and sacrifice some shots and move it quicker if looks weren’t there, given Jordan’s clearly score-first and mid-post-centric style; that’s for sure.

However, Sexton showing growth as a cutter and becoming a heck of a catch-and-shoot presence to me, factored in with his uber-competitive style, would mean he’d fit in really well as a Jordan teammate. Not to mention, Sexton is yet to miss a game in near two seasons to begin his career.

I could see a relentless offensive rebounder and screener in Tristan Thompson, who has proven to be a versatile defender when healthy, too, and a player who is so tough and has carved out a really nice career, also thrive as a Jordan teammate.

Furthermore, he proved his worth on the biggest stage alongside LeBron James and the Cavs in four straight runs to the NBA Finals which all were played against the Golden State Warriors, and during a historic 2016 NBA championship comeback over the Dubs.

Larry Nance Jr., who is a very good team defender, is switchable, and has improved all-around offensively due to his work ethic, and has impressive passing ability for a big, and is hard-nosed, I could see meshing also meshing well with MJ.

Others could’ve potentially fit to some degree as shooters and/or defensive role pieces, but in terms of the first few Cavs that come to mind, those three stand out.

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That being said, a player that really lives and breathes basketball in Sexton, who has shown notable improvement already in his second season, is the current Cav that I believe would align the best with Jordan as his teammate, from a hypothetical sense.