CLEVELAND — The Cleveland Cavaliers had enough confidence in point guard Collin Sexton that they spent the No. 8 overall pick in the 2018 NBA Draft on the former University of Alabama standout scorer/ballhandler.
Although highly touted for his playmaking abilities, Sexton struggled to produce consistently over the first few months of his first professional season, but that could be changing as he nears the franchise rookie record for the most consecutive 23-point games.
Already the Cavaliers’ record-holder for made three-pointers by a rookie, passing the mark set by multi-time All-Star guard Kyrie Irving, Sexton tied Austin Carr’s record with his sixth consecutive 23-point game when he tallied 27 in a 126-119 win over the Detroit Pistons at Quicken Loans Arena Monday.
“He certainly has grown as a shooter,” coach Larry Drew said. “I don’t think anybody can knock his ability to shoot the three. I watch him, day after day, work on it. This guy spends time in the gym before practice and he stays after practice and really works on his three-ball.
“You watch his shot, it may not be the prettiest thing, but it’s consistent. The rotation is consistent. Where he misses is pretty consistent. He’s very, very comfortable shooting the three, and I don’t think those who knocked him as far as his three-ball, I don’t think that’d be fair right now to say that this guy is not a three-point shooter. He gets into a rhythm, he can knock threes down.”
In the 13 games since the All-Star Game break last month, Sexton has increased his made field goals, shooting percentage, three-point percentage, steals and points per game while cutting down on fouls and maintaining even with 2.2 turnovers per outing.
Sexton has converted 47.0 percent of his field goal attempts and knocked down 45.8 percent of his three-point tries over an average of 33.7 minutes per game.
“I’m not surprised just because I’ve put in the work,” Sexton said.
“I know that it’s eventually going to pay off, so I just continue to work each and every day when I’m in the gym, and my teammates, they’ve been there through it all. They’ve been there from the beginning. They’ve been coaching me up, and I appreciate them for that. Just continue to learn, continue to grow.”
Late in Monday’s victory over the playoff-bound Pistons, the Cavaliers held a four-point lead, and after dribbling more than 20 seconds off the clock, Sexton pulled up for and buried a three-pointer from the left wing to help ice the game.
Sexton finished the game 10 of 16 from the field and five of six from three-point range on the way to a game-high 27 points.
“Those are moments that we are remembering,” Sexton said. “End of the game, when you make a big shot, then, they’re going to be like, ‘Oh yeah, he made a big shot.’ Those are the moments that I work for and make sure I’m always ready for.
“Oh yeah, to knock those threes down is big, just because if I miss, they’re going to get out and score on the other end, so I have to make sure I capitalize and make the shot.”