NBA Scout: Collin Sexton Is 'Bigger, Stronger and More Athletic' Than Trae Young

Jonathan Wasserman@@NBADraftWassNBA Lead WriterApril 6, 2018

Alabama guard Collin Sexton plays against Vanderbilt in the first half of an NCAA college basketball game Tuesday, Jan. 2, 2018, in Nashville, Tenn. (AP Photo/Mark Humphrey)
Mark Humphrey/Associated Press

Before Oklahoma's Trae Young became the talk of college basketball, the season started with Alabama's Collin Sexton considered the most coveted NBA point guard prospect.

Now that Sexton has officially declared for the NBA draft, it's worth asking: Have we come full circle?

With scouts wary of Young's inflated production and transition from college to the pros, Sexton won back support by averaging 24.2 points through five postseason games between the SEC and NCAA tournaments.

"Sexton has the NBA body, NBA athleticism and he plays both ends of the court," one scout told Bleacher Report. "It depends on the team picking, but he's bigger, stronger and more athletic than Young. He definitely has a chance to go before him."

The 6'3", 190-pound Sexton will declare for the draft, per BamaInsider.com's Tony Tsoukalas. General managers that seek to strengthen their backcourts must decide whether Sexton or Young is better suited for the NBA game.

          

NBA identity: scoring guard

A scoring point guard, Sexton averaged 19.2 points as a freshman and delivered a handful of signature performances that highlighted his ability to take over games.

He scored 40 points against Minnesota in November even though Alabama was forced to play three-on-five down the stretch. In December, he put up 30 points against potential No. 1 pick Deandre Ayton and Arizona, and in the SEC tournament, he dropped 31 points to knock off Auburn.

Quick and strong with explosive blow-by burst, Sexton puts heavy pressure on defenses by getting downhill and attacking. He got to the free-throw line 252 times in 33 games.

He fared well in both pick-and-rolls (87th percentile) and isolation (67th percentile), particularly as a driver and pull-up scorer (76th percentile).

        

TUSCALOOSA, AL - JANUARY 27: Trae Young #11 of the Oklahoma Sooners looks to maneuver by Collin Sexton #2 of the Alabama Crimson Tide during the game at Coleman Coliseum on January 27, 2018 in Tuscaloosa, Alabama.  (Photo by Michael Chang/Getty Images)
Michael Chang/Getty Images

Shot selection and style: Sexton versus Young

There are different ways of looking at Sexton's shot selection and style of play versus Young's.

Though Young led the nation in scoring with the country's highest usage, Sexton still scored in volume, and he did it from more spots on the floor.

Sexton showed flashes of a mid-range game that Young did not. He went 25-of-62 on half-court jump shots inside the arc, while Young shot just 4-of-15.

"I believe only 15 percent of his field-goal attempts are in the mid-range," one executive said of Young last month. "Can he get his shot off versus quality defense?"

On the other hand, NBA evaluators who buy more into analytics might prefer Young's shot selection, which consisted of mostly threes and shots at the rim with few two-point jumpers. Young made 118 threes to Sexton's 44.

In terms of style of play, Young is more of a setup man or facilitator who'll break down defenses to create shots for teammates. He averaged 8.7 assists, while Sexton (3.6 assists per game) never recorded more than seven assists in a game all season. That raises questions about his upside and fit as a starting NBA point guard.

         

Sexton's red flags

Sexton's assist-to-turnover ratio and pure point rating would be the lowest of any first-round point guard (who played in the NCAA) during his final year in college since Tony Wroten Jr. in 2012.

"I question whether he's just Rodney Stuckey," said one scout skeptical of Sexton's facilitating and potential to run an offense.

While he was highly successful scoring on pick-and-rolls (.957 points per possession, 87th percentile), generating offense as a passer was more of a struggle (.848 PPP, 29th percentile).

It's worth noting Alabama didn't shoot well as a team (46.1 percent), which likely affected Sexton's assist numbers. But his 4.2-3.2 assist-to-turnover ratio during the 2016 FIBA Under-17 World Championship wasn't much different.

Teams must ask how high Sexton's ceiling will be if he doesn't make significant progress as a half-court facilitator.

Sexton's jumper also deserves some questioning given the numbers (33.6 percent on three-pointers and 28.6 percent on medium jumpers) and his low-arcing shot. And despite being praised for his athleticism, his .976 PPP as a finisher at the rim (at 47.2 percent shooting) is considered below-average by Synergy Sports.

           

Polarizing competitiveness

NBA executives will use the predraft and interview process to determine whether Sexton's ultra-competitiveness would be a plus or negative for their locker rooms and rosters.

"I've never heard anything negative other than he talks a bunch of trash and needs to improve as a shooter and playmaker," said another scout. "Everyone I know who has dealt with him is a big fan off the court. Quieter and chill off the court but fired up on the court is how he's been described."

Since high school, Sexton has played with high intensity, which has its pros and cons.

Some coaches may love his emotion and passion. It shows on his face. He's a gamer with killer instinct—the type of player who wants the ball in crunch time. He looks to rattle opposing ball-handlers with physical, harassing defense.

But he also finished the season by earning a technical foul for taunting while down 24 points to Villanova in the second round of the NCAA tournament. Earlier in March, he was assessed a flagrant foul for tripping Texas A&M's TJ Starks, who he got into an altercation with during their prior meeting.

         

ST LOUIS, MO - MARCH 10:  Collin Sexton #2 of the Alabama Crimson Tide watches the action against the Kentucky Wildcats during the semifinals of the 2018 SEC Basketball Tournament at Scottrade Center on March 10, 2018 in St Louis, Missouri.  (Photo by And
Andy Lyons/Getty Images

Which teams could target Sexton?

Sexton figures to earn consideration from teams that select in the No. 8-16 range, the same portion of the draft where Young will also receive looks.

The New York Knicks will be a team to watch given Sexton's ability to get to the basket and New York's No. 29 ranking in drives per game.

Depending on how Markelle Fultz has progressed, the Philadelphia 76ers (with the Los Angeles Lakers' pick) could value Sexton's scoring, secondary playmaking and defensive quickness next to Ben Simmons.

The Los Angeles Clippers could use a guard, and the thought of pairing Sexton with Patrick Beverley will be enticing for their potential to create a tougher team identity. L.A. is projected to pick twice in the lottery as it also has the Detroit Pistons' first-round pick.

Sexton's draft floor would appear to be the point guard-needy Phoenix Suns. In addition to the projected No. 1 pick, they would have the 16th and 17th picks.

           

Stats courtesy of Synergy Sports and RealGM.com

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