The Cleveland Cavaliers went 2-1 this week with back-to-back wins over fellow bottom feeders. The Cavs are bad but not as bad as their record indicates considering how difficult their schedule was to start the season. These two wins move the Cavs to a respectable 7-5 against teams with losing records. While not great it’s certainly not bottom three team in the league material.
Here’s what we learned this week.
Collin Sexton’s outside shot might have been a mirage.
Arguably the most encouraging thing to come out of last season was Collin Sexton’s improved three point shot. He started out the season scared to take the outside shot, but finished it shooting 40.2% from deep on 3.6 attempts.
This season has been the exact opposite. Sexton started the year strong shooting 35.6% from three on 4.2 attempts in his first 14 games. Since then he’s shooting just 15.6% on 2.1 attempts per game. He’s hit just 10.5% of his threes since the beginning of December.
The declining three point percentage is alarming but not as alarming as the declining lack of attempts. It’s clear Sexton is losing confidence in his outside shot. His long term fit in the league is already tenuous given his size and lack of passing vision. Losing his outside shot just makes things even tougher than they already are.
It’s time to rip the band-aid off the Sexton/Garland backcourt.
The Sexland experiment has not gone well so far. Sexton and Darius Garland have shared the floor well at times, but that has been the exception. Overall both have played better without the other on the floor.
Garland plays much more assertive without Sexton. Since the beginning of December Garland’s numbers with Sexton on and off the court are as follows: usage rate 17.0/26.2, assist percentage 13.1/21.4, true shooting percentage 47.5/52.3, and net rating -23.1/-1.9.
The same number disparity works in the other direction as well. Since the beginning of December Sexton’s numbers with Garland on and off the court are as follows: pace 98.53/104.35, assist percentage 10.3/18.5, true shooting percentage 51.8/55.5, and net rating -23.1/-7.4.
Garland is able to take more control of the offense on his own without Sexton. This allows him to get more shots up from the areas he’s able to score from while getting others more involved. Conversely, Sexton is able to push the pace much more when he’s on his own. This allows him to get some easy and efficient offense in transition while opening up the floor a little more for him to make easier passes.
It takes a while for young and undersized guards to adjust to the NBA. Pairing them together from the jump was always going to be problem. However, the long term viability of an undersized backcourt was always in question no matter how good they both become. It’s virtually impossible to compete with two guards under 6’ 2” in the starting lineup.
The backcourt should be split up as much as possible for the benefit of both players. Both have shown they can play and develop better when the other isn’t on the floor. There’s no need to push for something that was never really obtainable in the first place.