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Youth Report: Collin Sexton continues to excel as a scorer

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Collin Sexton has stepped since the Jordan Clarkson trade.

NBA: Minnesota Timberwolves at Cleveland Cavaliers Ken Blaze-USA TODAY Sports

Here is the youth report for the week of December 30th through January 5th.

Player of the week: Collin Sexton

Averages this week: 23 points, 1.8 assists, 2.5 rebounds, 49.3 FG%, 40 3P%, 59.3 TS% in four games

It’s a three-peat for Sexton in the youth report. While criticism continues to fly at the second year guard, it hasn’t impacted his ability to be an effective scorer. With so much attention given to what he hasn’t been doing on the floor, it’s easy to lose sight at what he has done this season.

While he still has a ways to go on defense, we have seen growth and effort on that end of the floor. His usage and volume as a scorer has increased, while also increasing his efficiency. A feat that is made more impressive when you factor in that his three point shot is still due for some positive regression.

There hasn’t been any growth this season from him as a play-maker, but he is playing a more north/south game. Spending less time dribbling and transforming into a fairly reliable offensive option.

There is plenty of room for healthy debate regarding Sexton. His current skillset is one that resembles your classic sixth man archetype. But while he may not resemble a franchise cornerstone at this stage of his career, the pendulum of critcism has probably swung too far the other way.

At the very least Sexton has the highest floor among the young Cavs players. Players that can shoulder a load like him offensively typically find a way to have lengthy NBA careers. If he can continue to improve defensively and continue to improve his efficiency, he can be a valuable piece of any team.

With Jordan Clarkson gone, the team lost one of it’s most reliable scoring options. In the seven games since that trade, Sexton is averaging 22.3 points on a 55.1 true shooting percentage. For a guard that just turned 21 years old, that has to be worth something.

Kevin Porter Jr.

Averages this week: 9.3 points, 1.7 assists, 4 rebounds, 41.7 FG%, 12.5 3P%, 42.7 TS% in three games

It wasn’t a good week for Porter Jr, and then he got hurt. While he is going to be re-evaluated in two weeks, I expect the team to be extra cautious with him.

His averages coming back to earth to some extent was to be expected. But this time off may end up having a silver lining. Taking a step back and reviewing film during his time off could help slow the game down for him. Plus assuming he’s back by February, there’s still plenty of time to finish strong this season.

Darius Garland

Averages this week: 15 points, 5.3 assists, 1.8 rebounds, 41.7 FG%, 35.7 3P%, 56.3 TS% in four games

While Sexton has found more consistency as a scorer, Darius Garland appears to be finding his confidence and balance as a play maker. This was probably the most encouraging stretch for Garland’s passing, with a 2.94 assist to turnover ratio.

He also has been far more confident with his jump shot, actively using his dribble to create opportunities for himself and pulling up in transition. The learning curve has been steep for Garland, but as he worked his way into game shape and put some reps under his belt the growth is becoming obvious.

There will be more setbacks and low points, but Garland is starting to resemble the player people were excited by in his pre-draft highlights.

Cedi Osman

Averages this week: 15 points, 1.8 assists, 2.8 rebounds, 53.7 FG%, 50 3P%, 70.1 TS% in four games

Three good games for Cedi followed by a stinker against the Timberwolves. Osman was particularly frustrating against the Wolves because his misses seemed to come at the worst possible time.

Overall it was a great week for Cedi, even if his play didn’t translate to team wins. It likely would be unfair to expect much more than this from him, as his role isn’t to be a high usage presence on the team.

The biggest thing to monitor is the consistency of his outside shot. With Dylan Windler still in a suit and Alfonzo McKinnie now waived, the number of floor spacers available is limited. Osman needs to keep defenses honest to give the rest of the team room to work.

Dante Exum

Averages this week: 11.3 points, 1.8 assists, 2.5 rebounds, 64 FG%, 60 3P%, 77.7 TS% in four games

Vindication!

After debating whether or not to include Exum on the youth report he went out and put forward one of the most exciting performances we’ve seen from a young Cavalier. Through six games Exum has been very efficient for the Cavs and has shown a knack for getting to the rim.

Everybody is familiar with the availability issues Exum had in the past. However, the Jazz’s postseason aspirations also made it difficult to give him the playing time to see if he can work through some of his issues.

With Kevin Porter Jr. set to miss a couple weeks with a sprained knee, it’s fair to expect Exum to get a real opportunity here. But with the struggles of Matthew Dellavedova this season, it’s hard to justify playing him over Exum for the foreseeable future. Exum is a steady hand that rarely turns the ball over, is a better fit alongside any Cavs guard defensively, and presents some upside for the future.

Skepticism is fair when it comes to the long-term upside for Exum. But while the trade was primarily about the picks, part of the reason you take a flier on a player is to see what you have. It would be unwise for the Cavs to not fully explore what could be with Exum.

Stats as of Jan. 6