It’s hard to say Collin Sexton deserves to be an All-Star this year when his game is part of the reason why the Cavs aren’t playing well offensively.
Collin Sexton has been playing well to the naked eye. So far the Cavs are 10-13 and despite being under .500 are exceeding expectations for the year. The team feels so close to being a viable playoff contender and part of the reason has been the stellar scoring of Sexton. Sexton’s scoring, however, is part of the reason why the team’s offense is near the bottom of the league in every category.
The Cavs are 29th in points per game, 30th in three-pointers attempted, 19th in three-point shooting percentage, 30th in free-throw percentage, and 24th in team assists per game. A lot of these problems fall on the shoulders of Sexton, the team’s lead guard. While he’s more a hybrid/combo guard than a flat out point guard, he has taken on much of the playmaking responsibilities and has allowed the team to become stagnant offensively when it comes to moving the ball. The same problem that plagued this team last year.
Sexton settles for floaters far too often, a fine tactic if you’re nursing a 13-point lead, and absolutely mind-numbingly dumb if you’re down by 20. The problem is that this style of ball isn’t just Sexton’s, but it’s mirrored near identically by Darius Garland. The two guards are playing the exact same way, with Garland only moderately engaging others in the offense.
Garland is averaging just 4.44 assists per game since coming back from injury, and if it wasn’t for his loan 11 assist night, would have an average of just 3.6 assists per game. Comparable numbers to Sexton.
The issue why this is on Sexton, however, is that most people don’t expect Garland to be around long-term. The belief is that Sexton is the franchise-player. Ask LeBron James, franchise players carry the blame for their team’s struggles.
Sexton’s offense is a nice improvement over his 2019-2020 season, but it’s only one part of the equation. If you score two-points but give up three, you’re not playing well. It doesn’t matter how many floaters you hit, or how many fouls you draw, if the opposing player isn’t just negating, but surpassing your offensive output, you’ve become a liability. This isn’t necessarily all on Sexton as a whole. It’s more of an issue with the offensive mindsight the team has, which is in part led by Sexton.
Sexton’s lack of defense has also been an issue, with him having a negative defensive rating of -1.1. Granted he has an offensive rating of 1.6, but neither are great numbers for an All-Star. It tells you that Sexton is barely keeping up with the guys he’s matching up with.
This leads us to the discussion at hand; is Sexton a viable All-Star player? No, not this year. It’s true he’s getting more votes than Ben Simmons and Russell Westbrook, but Simmons is having an all-around better season. Sure, Sexton is topping Simmons’ offensive output, but Simmons is significantly better than Sexton at defense, and only slightly worse than Sexton offensively.
Westbrook is just having a terrible season.
Efficiency and ratings hold a lot of weight when judging talent, and that’s why it’s important to realize that there are players much better than Sexton in 2021. As far as point guards go, which is what Sexton is considered, Simmons, Devonte Graham, Kyle Lowery, Terry Rozier, and rookie Immanuel Quickley are all having better overall years. Maybe not in a points-per-game, but in their general usefulness to their teams, yes. In the case of Graham, Lowery, Rozier, and Quickley, they’re more effective than Sexton on both sides of the court.
Sexton could turn into a real star. Honestly. It just hasn’t been this year. He’s on the cusp but his inability to distribute the ball and his lack of a perimeter game has made Sexton one-dimensional, predictable, and easy to game plan for and his defense has become an albatross to the team.
He has a long way to truly go.