Predicting Collin Sexton's Rookie Stats for 2018-19 NBA Season

Greg Swartz@@CavsGregBRCleveland Cavaliers Lead WriterJuly 25, 2018

Predicting Collin Sexton's Rookie Stats for 2018-19 NBA Season

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    Garrett Ellwood/Getty Images

    Cleveland Cavaliers rookie point guard Collin Sexton is already a dark-horse candidate for Rookie of the Year after being named to the All-Summer League First Team.

    The No. 8 overall pick in the draft, Sexton averaged 19.6 points, 3.6 rebounds, 3.4 assists and 0.9 steals in 28.7 minutes per game. He shot 42.9 percent from the field but just 23.1 percent from three, proving his outside shot is still very much a work in progress.

    Sexton, 19, could start the season in the Cavaliers backcourt alongside George Hill or come off the bench behind the 10-year-veteran. Either way, he'll likely get plenty of playing time for a franchise desperate to stay relevant in the playoff picture after losing LeBron James in free agency.

    Expectations need to be kept reasonable, however, given Sexton spent just one season at Alabama and still has plenty of weaknesses in his game.

    Here's what to realistically expect Sexton's final rookie stat line to look like for the new-look Cavaliers.

Minutes Per Game

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    Ethan Miller/Getty Images

    This all depends on the direction Cleveland wants to go.

    Sexton is good enough to start right away on a rebuilding team, which is what the Cavs should be. So far, their only transactions have included signing Kevin Love to a four-year, $120 million extension (first reported by ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski and Brian Windhorst) and agreeing to terms with 35-year-old free agent forward Channing Frye. Not exactly a sign they're ready to tear things down.

    Given that the Cavs are yet to trade away any veteran talent, it appears they'll still be interested in trying to win games to begin the 2018-19 season.

    If this is the case, Sexton will almost certainly come off the bench behind Hill as the team's backup point guard. Either JR Smith or Rodney Hood (assuming the restricted free agent is brought back) will start alongside him.

    As of now, the Cavaliers have no other point guards on the roster, meaning Sexton should still get some good run off the bench as the team looks for both scorers and playmakers.

    If Cleveland appears headed toward the lottery and decides to move a veteran guard like Korver, Smith or even Hill, Sexton's minutes could explode by the end of the season. For now, his time will be somewhat limited as the Cavaliers foolishly chase a seventh or eighth seed.

         

    Stat Prediction: 21.3 minutes per game

Shooting Percentages

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    Garrett Ellwood/Getty Images

    Sexton already has a diverse offensive game and can score in transition, through the pick-and-roll, pulling up from mid-range and from outside the arc.

    For now, he's more of a driver that prefers to slice and twist through a defense and use his athleticism to finish around the rim or draw contact. Seventy percent of his shots at Alabama came inside the three-point arc.

    In time, Sexton should turn into a very good finisher around the rim. He'll make a few plays every game that will remind people of Kyrie Irving, while in other plays he'll throw up a prayer and wait for a whistle that never comes. Sexton was ranked in just the 27th percentile in college at converting at the rim in the half court, registering just 0.976 points per possession, per NBA.com.

    He made 53.6 percent of his shots in the paint overall while at Alabama. With the NBA floor more spread out and Sexton likely to see more hardwood when he gets close to the rim, don't be surprised if this number jumps up. He knocked down 33.6 percent of his college three-pointers and was a solid 77.8 percent shooter at the line in 252 total attempts.

    In summer league, Sexton struggled with his outside shot at the NBA level. He made just three of his 13 total attempts (23.1 percent) and doesn't possess the smooth shooting mechanics of someone who's going to win a three-point contest anytime soon.

    His free-throw shooting remained consistent in summer league at 76 percent overall.

         

    Stat Prediction: 42.3 FG%, 31.8 3P%, 74.5 FT%

Steals Per Game

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    While parts of his offensive game may struggle initially, Sexton should be a good defender in the NBA from Day 1.

    For starters, he has the organic competitiveness and desire to play defense, which isn't exactly common in the league today. His 6'7 ¼" wingspan, combined with springy athleticism, allows him to stay glued to his opponent and take away passing lanes.

    At Alabama, he averaged 1.6 steals per 100 possessions with a solid defensive rating of 105.2, per Sports Reference.

    Cleveland was abysmal defensively and ranked 24th in the league with 7.1 steals per game. LeBron led the team with 1.4, and Larry Nance Jr. swiped 1.2 passes a game. No guard on the Cavaliers collected even one a game. With Sexton, that should change.

    While steals are just a microcosm of good overall defense, Cleveland should be as aggressive as possible trying to collect them knowing the damage Sexton can do in transition. He led the entire SEC in transition scoring (5.1 points per game) and is a blur to try to stop in the open court.

    Don't be surprised if Sexton leads the Cavaliers in steals, even as a rookie.

         

    Stat Prediction: 1.2 steals per game

Assists Per Game

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    Bart Young/Getty Images

    This may be where the Cavaliers actually need Sexton the most. Here are the Cavs' assist leaders from last season:

    1. LeBron James, 9.1
    2. Isaiah Thomas, 4.5
    3. Dwyane Wade, 3.5
    4. George Hill, 2.8
    5. Jose Calderon, 2.1

    Now here's an updated look with players still actually on the team:

    1. LeBron James, 9.1
    2. Isaiah Thomas, 4.5
    3. Dwyane Wade, 3.5
    4. George Hill, 2.8
    5. Jose Calderon, 2.1

    Yikes.

    After Hill, Smith was next on the Cavs with 1.8 assists per game. If a team is counting on Smith for playmaking and getting others involved, it's probably not going to score a lot of points.

    Hill and Sexton are the only point guards the Cavaliers have at the moment. Hill's 3.3 assist average for his career isn't exactly inspiring, nor are the other primary catch-and-shoot guards like Smith and Korver.

    Unfortunately, Sexton has yet to show the abilities of a true point guard. He's a scoring guard, capable of setting up others on occasion but always looking for his own shot first. He averaged 3.6 assists per game at Alabama and 3.4 in the summer league.

    It's unfair for Cavaliers head coach Tyronn Lue to ask Sexton to become something he's not, even if he should improve as a floor general as the year goes on.

         

    Stat Prediction: 3.5 assists per game

Points Per Game

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    Scoring the basketball is what Sexton was put on this planet to do, and he's damn good at it.

    Sexton followed up his 19.2 point-per-game freshman season at Alabama with 19.6 points in summer league. He dropped 27 against Josh Hart and the Los Angeles Lakers, displaying his bag of tricks, which included scoring in transition, off screens, in isolation and with the three ball.

    How much shot attempts Sexton gets with the Cavs will depend on the state of the rebuild. Love will be the first mouth to feed, but there's no guaranteeing he makes it through the year without getting traded. The same can be said for Korver and Smith as well.

    That, combined with the 19.3 shots per game LeBron attempted, could open up some serious offensive opportunities for Sexton.

    If Love gets traded, the Cavs' primary scoring options now become Jordan Clarkson, Hood (if re-signed) and Sexton. That's a lot of pressure for a 19-year-old, but not something he's likely to shy away from.

    Look for Sexton's scoring numbers to start out slow but pick up mightily when Love is most likely moved.

         

    Stat Prediction: 12.7 points per game

    Final Stat Predictions: 12.7 points, 3.5 assists, 1.2 steals, 42.3 FG%, 31.8 3P%, 74.5 FT%, 21.3 minutes per game

    Greg Swartz covers the Cleveland Cavaliers and NBA for Bleacher Report. Stats provided by NBA.com and Basketball Reference unless otherwise noted.  

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