The Cleveland Cavaliers came into Wednesday night at 6-7 with some new additions, some guys back in the lineup, and a tough matchup ahead in the new Brooklyn super team. The Cavs won this game, but it’s not so much that they won, but how they won. It was a double-overtime, heroic performance by a 22-year-old guard without his whole team healthy. Collin Sexton put on a show last night, and it’s time we recognize him as a threat in the league. It’s also time we recognize that the Cleveland Cavaliers may end up being an issue for years to come.
Last night against the Brooklyn Nets, Collin Sexton dropped 42 points, his new career-high. More impressive than that was that he dropped 20 in a row and 22 total in overtime. With just seconds remaining, Sexton would knock down a contested three to tie the game to send it to double overtime. He was 55 percent from the field and 45 percent from behind the line. Sexton not only showed up and showed out, but he also looked like he belonged in the moment. If we go back to 2020, the signs were there of a Sexton breakout.
Seven of his last eight games last season where he finished with over 25 a game. Against Philly in late February, he dropped 28 points and was plus 18 on the court. He followed that with a 31-point game against the Pelicans. In his last five games before the shutdown in 2020, Sexton had 32 points against Utah, 41 points against Boston, 25 points against Denver, and 26 points in back-to-back games against the Spurs and Bulls. Three of those teams were a threat in the playoffs, and two of them made a conference finals.
The Cavs didn’t bring home many wins last season. A coaching change to start the season and again in the middle of the season didn’t help the team chemistry. When Collin was drafted, some laughed when he asked LeBron to come back to Cleveland in free agency to make another championship run. Looking back, LeBron probably made the right move, but laughing at Sexton now seems premature.
This trade for the Cavs should not go unnoticed. A necessary evil in the trade for James Harden, the Cavs were able to land Allen, who Brooklyn fans refer to as “the fro” in the three-team deal. The 22-year-old out of Texas was the 22nd overall pick in 2017. A project, to say the least. Allen used to get beat up fairly often in Brooklyn. However, his hustle and determination were always there. He has the tools, but they just had to be unlocked. Each year Allen got a little bit better and, this year took another leap forward.
Jarrett Allen this year is averaging around his career averages of 11 points and 10 rebounds. He’s added almost one more block per game to his stat line and is a menace on the defensive end of the floor. He’s currently sixth in the league in blocks with 23 just two blocks behind Anthony Davis. Allen, however, has not started but five games this year. He’s sat behind DeAndre Jordan in Brooklyn and now Andre Drummond in Cleveland. His most impressive start on the year, however, was his first. Allen finished with 19 points and 18 rebounds, outdueling the All-Defensive and Defensive Player of the Year Rudy Gobert.
It’s important to note that the Nets are now looking for not just a replacement for Jarrett Allen, but probably two or three different guys to be half of what he was. Allen could very well end up being the reason the Nets don’t win the title. Jarrett Allen is in the last year of his rookie contract. He should morph into one of the most elite defending shot blockers in the game over the next few years. Cleveland, you got a good one… a really good one.
Word came out that 2019 first-rounder, Kevin Porter Jr., and his tenure in Cleveland is coming to an end. While that is unfortunate for the talented second-year player, the Cavs aren’t hurting because of it. This year’s first-round selection, Isaac Okoro, is still finding his way in the league, but with five missed games, it’s going to take him time. Okoro comes into Cleveland with All-SEC Freshman team honors and All-SEC Defensive team honors out of Auburn. If he translates his defensive game from college to the pros, he and Allen will be terrifying to play against.
Garland was the Cavs top pick in the 2019 draft, and while some were sure of his talents out of Vanderbilt, others were skeptical of how he and Sexton could play together. In the small sample size we had of them this year, it seemed like they could handle it just fine. The Cavs were 4-2 with the young backcourt together on the floor, and Garland averaged 17 points and 6 assists over that time. Since a game against the Hawks in early January, he has been out of action, but his role will not be diminished when he returns. Garland will be another core piece of this young team moving forward.
The Cavs may shock some people this year and find themselves in a play-in tournament game. With SexLand on the rise and Allen being a key part of the future, they still have hoops to jump through. They have good veterans on the team but none with the Steph Curry ability to will a team to victory. This team will take some time, but the core of Okoro, Sexton, Garland, and Allen is there for a long time. Jarrett Allen is the oldest of the four turning 23 this April. Cleveland has all of their first-round selections still locked up moving forward as well. Based on how they have been drafting, they should hold on to those. SexLand will be the nickname we all remember from this Cavs team, but for the first time without LeBron (first and second departure), the Cavs have a bright future with more than one piece.