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Here’s a question: After Kevin Love and Cedi Osman, can you name the longest tenured Cavalier on the roster?
Because you’re reading the preseason profile on the Young Bull, you probably guessed it’s that venerable grizzled veteran, Collin Sexton.
There’s one thing that separates the first duo from Sexton.
Both of them have reached the Playoffs – with Love reaching the mountaintop in 2016 and Cedi making a Finals run with the 2018 team. Sexton has achieved tremendous individual growth through his first three seasons out of Alabama. Taking his team to the next level is the next step of the mission.
Whoever initially gave Sexton his nickname knew el Torito well. He might be the most relentless player in the league not named Russell Westbrook. The Atlanta native is a scoring machine who, in the words of J.B. Bickerstaff “can roll out of bed and get you 20.” If you watched last year’s double-overtime thriller at home over Brooklyn or even the heartbreaking road loss in Sacramento, you’ve seen a raging Bull at work.
At 24.5ppg, Sexton was once again the Wine & Gold’s leading scorer. In a season in which the team was decimated by injuries, the durable guard started 60 of 72 games. He also “rolled out of bed” and got Cleveland (at least) 20 in each of his first 10 games this season, something no Cavalier in team history had done before.
If there’s a leading candidate to be on the Eastern Conference squad that takes the floor for the 71st annual NBA All-Star Game in Cleveland, it might be Sexton, whose upward trajectory has him poised for a breakout season.
There’s not much he hasn’t shown on the offensive end through 207 career contests. Can he finally translate that production into victories? The Cavaliers begin that process on the other side of the weekend.
Sexton started the season with 10 straight games of at least 20 points, missed the first games of his career due to injury – a five-game absence in early January – then bounced back in the very next game to erupt for a career-best 42 points, going 16-of-29 from the floor, including 5-of-11 from deep in Cleveland’s dramatic double-overtime win over the new-look Nets.
In that thriller over Brooklyn, Sexton – who doesn’t turn 23 until early January – drilled his first triple of the night with 1.2 seconds remaining in the first overtime to tie the game at 127-apiece and proceeded to score 15 of Cleveland’s 20 points in the second extra session.
The outburst was special, but Sexton was also the squad’s most consistent scorer, topping the 20-point mark in 48 of his 60 appearances.
This past year, the rugged combo-guard also continued his rapid ascension through the franchise’s offensive ranks. In a meeting with the Celtics in late January, Sexton became the third-youngest Cavalier to reach 3,000 points. And on May 4 – in his 200th career game – he eclipsed the 4,000-point plateau, becoming the second youngest to do so.
Along with the career-high scoring mark, Sexton also turned in career-bests in field goal percentage (.475), assists (4.4apg), steals (1.03spg) and minutes (35.5mpg).
5 … Players in the NBA this past season to average better than 24.0ppg, 4.0apg, 1.0spg while shooting at least 47 percent from the floor, 37 percent from deep and 80 percent from the stripe – Nikola Jokic, Kawhi Leonard, Kyrie Irving, Stephen Curry and Collin Sexton.
His 24.5ppg scoring average ranked him as the league’s 18th leading scorer, 9th-best in the Eastern Conference.
The Cavaliers brass addressed the squad’s frontline this offseason – drafting Evan Mobley with the 3rd overall pick in the Draft, inking Jarrett Allen to a long-term deal and trading for seven-footer Lauri Markkanen. They also added some veteran stability in the backcourt, dealing for Ricky Rubio and signing EuroLeague standout, Kevin Pangos.
That leaves Sexton and the rapidly-improving Darius Garland to do their thing – and feel comfortable in their roles – this upcoming season. Garland is the point guard; the Young Bull, despite his career-best 4.4apg, is best off the ball.
Sexton, who went No. 8 overall in 2018, was Cleveland’s first major draft choice in the post-LeBron era – with that pick the key piece of the Kyrie Irving deal with Boston from the previous summer.
It’s his turn to join those Cavs from the past and return the franchise to its winning ways.