Cleveland Cavaliers, The Whiteboard

The Whiteboard: The Cleveland Cavaliers will need Collin Sexton to start passing

The Cleveland Cavaliers need Collin Sexton to start passing if he’s going to be their point guard of the future.

The Cleveland Cavaliers got themselves a fiery competitor when they drafted Collin Sexton. The rookie guard is already second on the Cavs in points per game, not counting Kevin Love, who has played just four games all season.

What Cleveland has not gotten is a capable passer. Sexton averages just 2.8 assists per game despite playing a hair under 30 minutes per game. When compared to some of his contemporaries, Sexton’s numbers are not great. Dennis Smith Jr., De’Aaron Fox and Frank Ntilikina were all rookies last season, and none of them had outstanding seasons in their first years running the floor on some bad teams. Still, the three of them racked up assists at a much higher rate than Sexton has thus far.

Smith Jr, Fox, and Ntilikina all averaged between 7.3 and 8.8 assists per 100 possessions in their rookie seasons. Sexton’s number stands out as an outlier — he’s accruing just 4.8 assists per 100 possessions so far this season.

Sexton does pass the ball a fair amount, slightly more than Eric Bledsoe does per game, the problem is that his passes aren’t accomplishing a lot for the Cavaliers. Just 6.6 percent of Sexton’s passes have resulted in assists this season, one of the lowest figures in the NBA among guards who play lots of minutes each night.

Among 84 guards who have played at least 15 games and average at least 25 minutes per game, Sexton is 78th in assist to pass percentage. When accounting for passes that result in secondary assists or free throws, Sexton remains 78th in the league. Last year’s rookie crop was able to get more assists per pass than Sexton has. Smith Jr. had an assist to pass percentage of 9.1, Fox’s was 8.6 and Ntilikina sported an 8.5 assist to pass percentage. None of these players played on teams that were any good, and thus far only Fox has taken a step forward in improving his passing. That doesn’t bode well for Sexton.

Obviously, the lack of reliable scoring options around him is an issue but the Cavaliers need to get their young point guard in more and better passing situations and hope he takes after Matthew Dellavedova, who has a sterling assist to pass percentage of 12.4 this season. If not, Cleveland will have trouble building an effective offense around, or even involving, their most recent lottery pick.

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