Cleveland Cavaliers: Collin Sexton is the squad’s heartbeat

Cleveland Cavaliers guard Collin Sexton drives. (Photo by David Richard-USA TODAY Sports)
Cleveland Cavaliers guard Collin Sexton drives. (Photo by David Richard-USA TODAY Sports) /

In Year 3, Collin Sexton has continued to lean into a primary bucket-getting role for the Cleveland Cavaliers.

After leading Cleveland in scoring in 2019-20 with 20.8 points per outing, Sexton has again done so, and taken it a step further; he’s currently putting up 24.4 points per contest. That’s been on a pretty robust 57.9 percent true shooting clip.

And even after a rough patch of games in March and earlier this month, Sexton is now back up to a solid 37.6 percent hit rate on three-point looks this season. Throughout his nearing-on three-year career with Cleveland thus far, he’s now hit 38.7 percent of his 3.9 three-point attempts per outing overall, which has been a positive. He hit only 33.6 percent of his deep ball attempts in his lone collegiate season at Alabama.

Sexton is no longer a player that’s been hesitant, to a large degree at least, of letting catch-and-shoot deep balls fly, whereas he was particularly in the first half of his rookie season.

The volume for him is not necessarily the highest from three game-to-game, but he’s a bonafide threat from there at this point, thanks to his tireless work ethic and growth as a shooter from outside, and that’s set paid dividends.

Anyway, what has become very clear to me in regards to Sexton, though, is that it’s not just the bucket-getting with him game-to-game for Cleveland that jumps out. It’s the mentality/ultra competitiveness he seemingly has, and the absolute max effort that you see and the sheer will he has that by and large, makes for significant contributions.

Game-to-game, the Cavs pretty much know what they’re getting from Sexton, and from my perspective, it’s why projecting onward, his leadership presence will grow more and more. It already appears to be taking shape with his work ethic, seemingly as well.

Albeit in games, in particular, with the competitive fire he plays with, and the grit/toughness that you see, the third-year guard is the heartbeat of the Wine and Gold.

Sexton looks to be the heartbeat of the Cavs.

What I’m getting at here is that from my view, with what the Cavaliers can expect to get from Sexton, and in an efficient manner at that, game-to-game, he’s the steadying force.

He’s the guy that gets baskets when dry spells come and to me, his constant three-level scoring threat always keeps defenses honest, which aids guys such as Garland, Kevin Love to some extent more recently, among others.

But it’s the constant energy and uber-competitive mindset that you see from Sexton in a general sense, too, that plays into him being the heartbeat for the Cavs, with how he just consistently provides juice for this team.

Somewhat in relation to that, when the Young Bull abuses opposing bigs or slower wings in switchout situations, whether it’s getting to in-rhythm pull-up looks, or utilizing his change-of-pace or explosion via drives, it’s typically a bucket.

And that’s a tone-setting/on-floor leadership sort of thing from the third-year guard who continues to come into his own and is currently amid his longest single-season streak of 20-plus-point games (11).

Sexton’s growth to some extent on-ball defensively has made a difference as well, though I’m not saying he’s Isaac Okoro in that regard. Albeit Sexton’s ball pressure does help the defenses’ scope a solid chunk of occasions still, and that helps in setting the tone with guys such as Okoro and Larry Nance Jr., too.

Additionally, when there’s hustle plays to be made, Sexton, much like Matthew Dellavedova when he’s in there, is going to be right in the thick of things. The Young Bull is never shy about diving on the floor for loose balls, which provides momentum for the Cavaliers and provides an energy lift, too.

He’ll get in there at times when it’s called for and at least scrap for loose balls and/or occasional contested boards as well. Just take this sequence from Cleveland’s blowout W on Wednesday over the Chicago Bulls (albeit sans Zach LaVine) in, for example. This is the kind of junkyard dog mentality you see from Sexton on a nightly basis.

So, while Sexton does need to continue to develop to become more well-rounded and needs to keep growing in the secondary playmaking and team defensive sense, even though he’s made strides in those areas, he’s becoming a big-time player for Cleveland. 4.1 assists per outing this season has been a plus, for what it’s worth.

Is he going to be a primary playmaker in the realm of Trae Young or Luka Doncic? No, but that’s not his role, and some Cavs fans need to chill out on the criticism of Sexton, who is clearly this team’s primary option currently and is becoming a near-walking efficient 25-point scorer at 22. He should be around with the Cavaliers for a long time, too, and he should be compensated in seemingly an extension to come very handsomely.

Now, I’d argue that Garland, who recently became the fastest player in Cavs history to hit the 200-made three mark and is an ever-improving primary playmaker, is the soul of the Wine and Gold, conversely. That’s with how he’s gotten himself and his teammates going/managing games.

In Sexton’s case, however, it’s the mindset of him constantly attacking in games, the grit/toughness he shows, which has largely included durability thus far, too, the maniacal work ethic he has and his tone-setting style that makes him Cleveland’s heartbeat.

Next. Cleveland Cavaliers: 10 greatest guards in franchise history. dark

Sounds like a bench player, right? Siri: *please insert face palm emoji.