Collin Sexton, welcome to the NBA.
To be sure, his debut came earlier in the week. And I wouldn’t even say he totally showed up for the first half of this one. He’s not starting, and he’s logging minutes with Jordan Clarkson. Finding his space with the ball, role in the offense, catching up to the speed of the game ... it’s all going to take time. In the second half of the Cavs loss to the Minnesota Timberwolves, Sexton gave a hint of what he could be, and of what he’ll have to be to justify where he was drafted. Jimmy Butler and Karl-Anthony Towns were ultimately too much for the Cavs. Sexton, and even more so Cedi Osman, gave the team reason to be okay with that.
The Minnesota Timberwolves 131, your Cleveland Cavaliers 123.
The Cavs starting unit came out and played well in this game. Kevin Love is really good. I think a few of us tried to make that clear in this space over the last few years. 25 points on 19 shots, 19 rebounds and seven assists to just three turnovers. The Cavs outscored the Wolves by three in 39 minutes. I think they only played basketball for nine other minutes, so you know those ones didn’t go so well. The Cavs have him locked up on a yearly basis that decreases over time. Not bad.
Unfortunately, Butler is a top-eight NBA player, and the Wolves haven’t traded him yet. 33 points on 12 shots, seven rebounds, three assists, two steals, two blocks. Are you kidding me? Anytime the Cavs made a run in this one, Butler had an answer. You got the feeling he was willing to spend just as much energy as he had to so that everyone knew he was the reason Minnesota won the game. Sure, Towns was impressive and great; he simply didn’t bend the game like Butler.
But look, the moral victories for the Cavs won’t last all year. Guys will get frustrated, season long stats will not be flattering, and it’ll be hard to tell who is worth building around or with or without. For now, Osman and Sexton look like they can be players. That’s worth being excited about, and I’ll take the moral victory when I can.