Cavs point guard Collin Sexton is in the middle of an up and down third year as Cleveland’s budding young scorer but he knows he needs to do better.
Collin Sexton is in the middle of an up-and-down year for the Cavs. Sure his scoring is up, but he’s not playing to the level many had hoped, part of that is his long-distance shooting. For someone who has possession of the ball as much as Sexton does, he’s not making the plays he needs. Yes, his assists aren’t great for a third-year guard with his usage, but what’s worse is his defense, coupled with a pretty mediocre scoring output.
Now the laymen will sit here and tell you that because he’s averaging 22 points per game, on 45% shooting efficiency from inside the arc, that he’s having a good year. Except he’s been awful on defense. For every 1.5 points he scores, he gives up 1.7. So his shooting percentage is actually just a sign that Sexton is taking easy shots that don’t affect the game.
Now, he’s clearly never going to be a great, let alone good, defensive player but Sexton could at least take better shots to help the team out and not just pad his stats. Now some blame head coach J.B. Bickerstaff, but it’s never been his fault, even Sexton said as much after losing to the Nuggets to Chris Fedor of Cleveland.com and the rest of the media. Sexton was clear when he said that he was the one passing up the shots.
"Been passing up a lot of easy ones. Just haven’t been taking them. I’m going to start shooting more. Five to seven each game. Simple as that. That’s my goal going forward."
This is a little less than what we were hoping for volume-wise, but it’s a start. Sexton is shooting about 41% from the three-point line, but that’s on pretty low volume. Anyone who knows statistics, or just baseball, will tell you that the more you shoot (or swing a bat) the more likely your average drops. So the possibility that the number stays at 41% isn’t great; it’ll drop some. If he can stay in the 38%-40% range from three while improving his points-per-game, then fans should be happy with that and see it as a sign of improvement, even if his stats dip slightly.
Part of the conversation on Sexton has been a presumed inability to generate offense consistently from three. That may be why he was so reluctant to shoot them, it may not. Maybe he was worried about his overall shooting percentage, or maybe he really just thought he was helping out the team with taking high-efficiency shots from mid-range.
Now, you can get away with mid-range shots only if you play defense like Chauncey Billups or Michael Jordan. You can’t get away with that if you don’t. There’s a reason why James Harden takes so many three’s and it because he knows he’s awful on defense. He won’t stop anyone defensively but he’ll make you keep pace with his offensive output.
If Sexton isn’t going to develop into a lockdown defender, then he needs to develop into a guy who outpaces his opposition. That’s what this team was doing so well at to start the year, and hopefully, with Sexton taking more three-point shots, they can once again set a pace that can’t be matched.