Bull in the Bubble

Bull in the Bubble

A Bulked-Up Collin Sexton Enters Season Three with a Singular Team Goal

by Joe Gabriele (@CavsJoeG)
9/25/20 | Cavs.com

Through one season at Alabama and two with the Cavaliers, Collin Sexton’s well-earned nickname “the Young Bull” has been based on his mental approach to the game. Tough. Fearless. Relentless.

But from early reports inside the Wine & Gold’s downtown bubble, the physical side of that approach is catching up.

Sexton already had a good NBA frame as a 21-year-old – and he’s needed it. Not many guards are as willing to take the physical punishment that the Georgia native has. And through his first 147 possible appearances, he hasn’t missed a single one. Now entering his third year, The Bull comes to the bubble with some added armor.

”In terms of his body, his shoulders are massive,” said Cavaliers GM Koby Altman. “It’s really hard to compare him with another guard with that kind of physique. And that just speaks to his work ethic. It’s all him. We’ve certainly given him plans as far as how we want him to grow from a skills standpoint on the basketball floor. But with everything off the floor, he’s just locked in.”

Sexton was listed at 190 last year, but the squad’s leading scorer says he’s bulked up since.

After playing his first 147 games without a miss, Sexton needs 39 more to top Andre Miller for the most consecutive without a miss to start his Cavs career.
Courtney Payton/Cavaliers Photos

”I started eating better than I had before and I put on about 10-15 pounds of muscle,” said Sexton. “(I’ve been) doing a lot of recovery, a lot of strength training – working a lot of parts that I needed to improve on. I think it’s going to help me become faster and more explosive on both sides of the ball.

”I definitely targeted a lot of different areas. Especially once we knew we weren’t playing, I was like: Alright now let’s stick to this plan.”

On Wednesday, J.B. Bickerstaff talked about the physical transformation of his promising sophomore backcourt. Kevin Porter Jr. has bulked up and Darius Garland has slimmed down. They’re both 20 years of age. Sexton doesn’t turn 22 until January.

Last year, the former Alabama standout established himself as the Cavaliers primary offensive weapon and led the team in scoring with 20.8ppg. He was on fire just before the 2019-20 campaign abruptly ended – topping the 25-point plateau in each of his last six outings, including a career-best 41-point outburst against Boston. He averaging 28.1ppg over his last eight games.

You don’t get the nickname he’s gotten without having a chip on your shoulder and Sexton has consistently proven critics wrong. Coming out of college, the knock was his outside shooting. He then proceeded to set the Cavs rookie record with 119 triples.

Sexton certainly hasn’t gotten the publicity that his draft classmates Luka Doncic and Trae Young have, and that’s mostly fair. But through his first 147 games as a pro, he’s only missed double-figure scoring in 12 of them. In 61 of those contests, he’s topped the 20-point plateau.

So, as his coach says, Sexton can score 20 falling out of bed. What’s next in his development? According to Koby Altman, he’s made strides in several areas, emerging as a young team leader.

"We joke that (Collin) is the ‘human bubble.' He’s going home and watching basketball and he’s coming to the court and playing basketball. That’s what he does. That’s what he lives. And he’s about it. Some people say they’re all about basketball, but he’s ALL ABOUT BASKETBALL."

”He’s certainly finding his voice more, which is awesome,” praised Altman. “He’s opened up more, (from) his first press conference where he barely said a word to now, where he’s talking about team goals. Also, to hear him on these calls that you guys don’t get to be a part of, he’s way more vocal, he’s asking more questions. You can tell education is very important to him, when he gave iPads to some kids in Georgia.

”So he’s been wonderful in that regard, in terms of his growth.”

Sexton is still a man of few words who’d rather talk about team goals – and in that regard, his sights are set.

”I don’t tell people my personal goals, but as a team, I want to get in the playoffs,” smiled Sexton. “I want to win more games than I have in the past two years. I want to become a winner, to change that. I want to go out there and compete every night. I want to get some wins. Let’s make a push for the playoffs.

”And I feel like with Coach, we definitely have chance. All the guys, all the young guys, everybody’s already buying in.”

Sexton and the Cavaliers still have a few workouts remaining in the downtown bubble. And after daily workouts, guys have been taking in the September NBA action down in Orlando.

”It’s amazing that they don’t have any positive tests or anything like that,” said Sexton. “Guys down there in the bubble are sticking to what they’re supposed to do so it works for all of us – so, much respect to them for that. I’m glad that it’s allowing us to have a mini-bubble and get back with the guys. But if it wasn’t for them doing what they’re supposed to in Orlando, none of this would be possible for us.

”And watching the playoffs has been good because we’ve been watching as a team and able to talk about the game. We have fun.”

Sexton will be solid in the Cavaliers downtown bubble this week and he’d have been solid in Orlando had the Cavs made that trip. The Wine & Gold’s general manager explained why.

”We joke that (Collin) is the ‘human bubble,’” laughed Altman. “He’s going home and watching basketball and he’s coming to the court and playing basketball. That’s what he does. That’s what he lives. And he’s about it. Some people say they’re all about basketball, but he’s ALL ABOUT BASKETBALL. That’s his central focus, his passion.

”And we’re lucky to have him.”