Today in Fear the Sword’s season hiatus player review series: Collin Sexton. Follow the whole series here.
Collin Sexton’s biggest improvements this season came in the same areas he showed improvements in during his rookie season. Conversely, the weakest areas of his game showed little to marginal improvements. This makes projecting his future difficult. It’s clear he has the work ethic and drive to improve immensely, but can he improve in the areas he needs to the most?
Sexton has always been somewhat of a late bloomer. He went from being outside the top 150 of his college recruiting class his junior year to being within the top ten entering his senior year. His rise to the NBA has been predicated on large, incalculable leaps.
Sexton’s time in the NBA has resembled that progress. He came into the league as an inefficient score first guard who was hesitant to shoot three-pointers. In just a year’s time, he has reworked his shooting form and turned himself into an above average three-point shooter. This has resulted in him registering a 56 true shooting percentage while posting a team high 20.8 points per game. That’s a huge leap for a prospect who many thought would never be able to be an above average shooter.
Conversely, the biggest weaknesses of his game have shown only slight improvements. Defense was a big talking point for Sexton on media day. Besides showing small flashes of potential, there really hasn’t been much tangible progress. His on and off-ball defense still leave much to be desired. Some of this could be contributed to him sharing the floor with Darius Garland and being forced into guarding shooting guards. Unfortunately, that will be his role if Garland and Sexton remain paired together.
The second-year guard also didn’t make great strides in his playmaking ability. Before the season stopped, Sexton was averaging 3 assists per game. That’s the same as he averaged his rookie season, while posting a team high 26.4 usage rating. Sexton will probably never be the primary initiator of a good offense, but he still needs to make the simple passes to keep defenses honest. Defenses generally collapse the paint when Sexton drives and he doesn’t have the ability to see where the open man is. While he showed some improvements on that right before the stoppage, there wasn’t enough there to make you hopefully that this is a skill he can develop.
Sexton’s work ethic can’t be discounted. His improvements have already surpassed my expectations of the player he could become. However, his limitations in defense and play making limit what his role could be on a good team. If you believe Sexton can improve in those areas, you probably view him as one of the foundational pieces of the rebuild. If you don’t believe he can significantly improve in those areas, you see him as a sixth man at best.
The truth is we don’t know what kind of player Sexton will become. He has continually shown throughout that he can exceed the expectations put on him by others. We’ll find out where that continued growth leads him in the coming years.