Cleveland Cavaliers guard Collin Sexton has had his share of rookie growing pains. The eighth overall pick of the 2018 NBA Draft, and one of the superstars of the Summer League, Sexton struggled during the early months of the season.
Through the first 13 games of his career, he posted just 12 points per contest on 40.9 percent shooting (35.9 percent on 3’s) and 2.3 assists as the Cavs stumbled to a 2-11 record. Beginning the year as a bench player, Sexton was thrust into the starting lineup after George Hill went down with a shoulder injury in November. Hill was traded to the Milwaukee Bucks in early-December, paving the path for Sexton to be the full-time starter.
Sexton’s ascension into the starting-five had its low moments. During Cleveland’s season-worst 12-game losing streak that spanned from mid-December to mid-January, he shot 52-for-159 (32.7 percent) from the floor. He failed to make a three-pointer in four of those losses and hit just one triple in four of those games.
But Sexton has been on a tear lately, showcasing why he was a lottery selection last June. The 20-year-old Sexton is averaging 27.3 points over his past three games. In the first contest of this scorching-hot stretch, he set a Cavs franchise-record for three-pointers made by a rookie during a loss to the Miami Heat.
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Sexton supplanted six-time All-Star Kyrie Irving’s mark of 73 triples set in 2011-12. Irving’s previously-held rookie-record came during a lockout-shortened season in which he played just 51 games, but Sexton’s feat is an amazing accomplishment nonetheless, especially for a player who many pundits claimed was a weak shooter.
“It’s pretty cool [breaking Cleveland’s rookie-record for 3’s] because people been saying I can’t shoot,” Sexton said after the loss to Miami. “I just got to keep proving them wrong.”
Sexton has connected on 84 three-pointers this season and is shooting a team-best 40 percent from behind the arc.
Sexton also wowed in the Cavs’ victory over the conference heavyweight Toronto Raptors on Monday night. He led all players in scoring with 28 points on 10-of-18 shooting, including 4-of-7 from downtown. Sexton also dished out five assists and grabbed four rebounds.
“I really thought tonight was probably as complete of a game as I’ve seen Collin play in regards to him scoring, getting us into an offense and his decision-making,” Cavs head coach Larry Drew said following his team’s 126-101 win. “I thought Collin did another good job as far as mixing up penetration, whether to finish or get into the paint and make the kick-out. I thought he was really good at that tonight. This was as a complete game as I’ve witnessed with him. He played a terrific all-around game.”
With growing confidence and the public backing from his coach, Sexton has made the lowly Cavs (17-51) watchable again. His game-best 26 points nearly spearheaded the Cavs to an upset victory on Tuesday night, but they ultimately fell to the playoff-bound Philadelphia 76ers, 106-99.
Sexton has enhanced his scoring ability as the season has progressed, averaging 15.4 points per contest. He also posts per-game averages of 3.0 rebounds and 2.9 assists in 30.7 minutes for his rookie campaign.