Cavs: Collin Sexton has a style of play that isn’t conducive to winning

Collin Sexton has had a hard time proving he’s the Cavs franchise player.

On paper, Collin Sexton is a dream come true. He’s a player who has an incredible scoring ability and can get to the basket whenever he wants. He’s the franchise player for the Cavs for years to come. On paper. The problem is that it’s simply not true. Sexton is not the player that many claim him to be, nor is he anywhere near the league’s top guards with regard to where he should be as a player three years into his career.

His teammates know it too and are becoming very aggravated with the Cavs young guard. Joe Vardon of The Athletic has gone on record to say that his teammates are unhappy with Sexton’s style of play, saying;

Various Cavs players still grow frustrated by the way Sexton dominates the ball, and opponents taunt them by saying during games, ‘You know he’s not going to pass you the ball.

This isn’t surprising in the least, as the Cavs have not been able to win with him as the primary scorer. While he may be the best option, he’s not the only one and his teammates have proven that time and tie again.

Collin Sexton is shooting a deceptively good 48% from the floor and leading the team with 24 points and four assists. That seems like a great thing, right? Except, those stats aren’t actually translating to wins, and for a good reason. Sexton has a high usage rate, 29.2% which is in the top-20 in the league among guards.

That’d all be fine, except he’s got a BPM of 0.0 and a VORP of 0.9.

For those unsure, a BPM is the difference you make against a team on both ends of a court. It basically means when you’re on the court you’re either helping the team score more or less points than if you’re off the court.

If you have a BPM of 5.0, it means you put up five more points than you give up. If you have a BPM of -2.0, it means that if, for instance, you score 15 points, you’re responsible for giving up 17 points on defense.

Sexton’s BPM is at a 0.0. Just for context, Damian Lillard, Stephen Curry, Luka Doncic, Kyrie Irving, and Chris Paul have never had BPM of 0.0 or less, while Sexton has had two years of sub-0.0 heading into 2020-2021. By year three, Sexton’s current year, every player listed previously was at 3.0 or higher.

Look at Lillard’s career or the last few from Curry, they are truly great players who don’t need great talent around them to have a good BPM. It’s as much of an individual stat as it gets.

As for VORP, it’s basketball’s version of WAR. Basically, it breaks down how many points the player will score over the average player per 100 possessions. Sexton only has a 0.9. This means that if you played Schmo Jo from the G-League for the same amount of minutes, and gave him the same amount of opportunities, he’ll only score you 0.9 fewer points than Sexton would; on average.

For more context; Lillard averages around a 4.0 every year, Curry around a 5.0 or higher, same with Doncic. Westbrook is anywhere from a 2.0-to a 9.0, while Irving is around a 3.0 usually, Paul had between a 6.0-9.0 during his prime.

The math spells it out clearly; Sexton’s not a franchise guy.

It’s a sad but mathematically true analysis of Collin Sexton.

The Sexton fans will hate the advanced stats because it paints him for what he is; a ball hog who doesn’t score in a way that actually translates to wins. If you’re giving up three-pointers all night, but all you do is drive to the basket, you’ll never be able to generate enough points to keep pace with the deficit, let alone close it.

Now, there is something to be said about high rates of use and high field goal percentages. It’s the old idea that if you score a touchdown twice in a game, but I kick five field goals, I’m going to win 15-14. Yet, to win like that, you have to do far more work for less of a return; all while not having any leeway to miss a single field goal.

That’s Sexton’s style, in a nutshell, kick high percentage field goals while everyone else is scoring touchdowns.

The Cavs as a whole are terrible against guarding the three-point shot, so clearly the obvious idea would be to shoot more threes to keep pace. One would think the guy with the highest team usage rate, Sexton, would leading the way in three-point attempts.

Except he’s not. For more context, Doncic, Lillard, and Curry are averaging at least 40% of their shots being from behind the arc. Sexton is only averaging 22% of his shots from there. He’s one of only two guards in the NBA with a PPG average of 20.0 or higher and has less than five three-point attempts per game. The other is Russell Westbrook, a notoriously bad pure-shooter.

Sure, Sexton’s scoring points inside, but he’s not scoring nearly enough or shooting well enough for that to be effective. If you argue “his game” isn’t to shoot three’s, then that’s the problem, isn’t it? His game doesn’t fit the modern NBA. The modern league thrives on three’s and Sexton isn’t putting up enough points to compete with the three-point shooters of today.

If he were the second option, was second or third in usage rate, passed more, and had a Devin Booker type, then his lack of threes wouldn’t be a problem. That’s not the case, however, and if he’s the “star” of the team, it’s on him to adapt to make the team better.

Yes, the young guard is shooting about 52% from inside the arc, but if you can’t keep pace with the guys across from you, it doesn’t matter. They’re scoring more points, and at a shooting rate very comparable to Sexton’s. Curry and Doncic are both averaging more threes than Sexton, while also having a better traditional field goal percentage as well. So clearly they’re able to outpace players like Sexton.

Sexton has got to shoot more threes. It’s not even up for debate.

Compare Sexton’s scoring to the elite guards of the NBA the same way you would to a student in regular science as opposed to advanced science. Yes, you might both have A’s, but the advanced science’s A actually is worth more, and a student in the advanced science class will finish their yearly requirements in the subject faster than the traditional student.

That’s Sexton; he’s playing regular basketball in an age of advanced basketball players.