In today’s NBA game, young players are having a more significant impact on the game than ever before. But often times the weight of expectations some have for these players forces us to jump to conclusions about players who are often times 19-20 years old.
The fact of the matter is not every top-10 pick is going to come into the league and set the NBA on fire. A lot of times these rookies & young players need a year, or multiple years, to fully develop into the NBA player they were expected to be coming out of college.
For two of the Cleveland Cavaliers young players, Collin Sexton and Cedi Osman, they seem to be well on their way to hitting their stride as the season begins to wind down.
While both Osman and Sexton are playing superb basketball of late, just a couple of months ago, rumblings were beginning to develop about the lack of progress for both players.
Sexton entered the league at 19-years-old and was coming to a franchise that was fresh off losing this generations best player for the second time in a decade.
The book on Sexton coming into the league was that he was a tough, physical player that could absorb contact and finish around the rim. Though he was seen as a streaky shooter and wasn’t much of a passer despite being labeled a point guard.
Sexton started October off slow averaging just 12 points per game (14 percent from 3-point range) while dishing out only 2.3 assists per night (per NBA.com).
Those numbers improved though once the calendar turned to November as Sexton averaged 16.1 points a game (48 percent from 3-point range) but still just 2.7 assists per contest (per NBA.com).
After a solid December as well (14.8 points, 31.6 percent from beyond the arc) Sexton’s numbers dipped a bit in January (13.3 points, 33.6 percent from the floor).
But since the Cavaliers came back from the All-Star break, Sexton began to elevate his game even more. In his 14 games post-All-Star break, the Alabama guard is averaging 20.7 points a night, while shooting nearly 47 percent from 3-point range and is nearing three assists per night.
In fact, since the calendar turned to February, Sexton only has two games of 12 or fewer points. Sexton also happens to be shooting the 3-ball better than fellow rookie Trae Young (41.3 percent to 33.5 percent).
With 23 or more points in his last seven games, Sexton has done something that even LeBron James or any other Cavaliers player did not accomplish as a rookie.
Collin Sexton was unaware that he’s the first rookie since Tim Duncan to score at least 23 points in 7 straight games. when a reporter told him postgame, he broke into a huge smile and said “oh that’s what’s up.”
— Jordan Zirm (@clevezirm) March 21, 2019
Osman, like Sexton, has elevated his game throughout the season. This is truly Osman’s first season to show the franchise what he is capable of after playing just 11 minutes a night during his rookie campaign.
At the beginning of the season, Osman started out scoring 13 points a game in October, but that dipped to 10.3 and 12.1 points per game in November/December. Like Sexton, some were beginning to wonder if Cedi was the player so many had made him out to be prior to joining the Cavaliers.
But the month of February was a breakthrough month for the 23-year-old from Turkey, as he averaged 16.8 points per game on an incredible 57.6 percent shooting from the floor & 55.6 percent from beyond the arc. During that month, Osman also grabbed 5 rebounds a night & dished out 3.5 assists.
Both players seemed to have taken that “next step” in their respective careers and are offering the Wine & Gold some hope in their rebuild. The Cavaliers are far away from getting back to the top of the conference, but with the continued rise of Sexton and Osman, they could be the franchise cornerstones that help lead this team back to the playoffs sooner rather than later.