Last Thursday the Cleveland Cavaliers made a choice. One that will define them for the foreseeable future. A choice that could change the layout of their franchise, or add to it's existing success. Their choice was betting on a 19-year-old kid from the University of Alabama to lead them out of their black hole of mediocrity. (Of course I can call the defending eastern conference champions mediocre. They had one of the worst defenses in the league, along with the fact that their best player seemingly wants out.)
But that same 19-year-old kid can be the ultimate key in keeping LeBron James in Cleveland, or he can be the fresh start the Cavs so desperately need.
Whether he wants to admit it or not, LeBron James wants to leave Cleveland because other than maybe Kevin Love the roster stinks. It's riddled with un-tradable contracts and players with their best years behind them. So the only possible option to improve the roster was through the draft and other than Michael Porter Jr., Sexton was a no-brainer. If general manager Kobi Altman, went with Porter, it probably would have sent the message to James that they were ready to move on from him. The two play the same position, and Porter is heralded as an offensive juggernaut closer to Kevin Durant but that isn't too shabby either. It's also not like James hasn't dished out his fair share of passive aggressive signals, such as the infamous Arthur fist.
Regardless, it would be an idiotic move by Altman. Porter has a history of injury and not only does he have to prove that he is healthy, but he will have to face the pressure of being the heir apparent to the king himself. To me and thankfully the Cavaliers organization as well, that was too big a risk.
The Cavaliers really need Sexton. At the end of the finals last season everyone was dead tired and ready to join the AARP. It was like watching an episode of "The Walking Dead." You remember how great it was five years ago but now its just sad to see what it's become. What both of these things need is a shot of adrenaline and only one of them is actually getting it.
Alabama head basketball coach Avery Johnson once said that Sexton was "the fastest player I've ever seen with the basketball." He's also been heralded by the likes of Jay Bilas as the most competitive player in the draft. If your Cleveland that is exactly what your team was missing last year. Speed and competitive spirit. There were multiple games in the playoffs where the Cavs didn't start games off shooting well and fell behind early. Instead of fighting to put together runs and get stops they'd hoist up a couple of threes and just go through the motions to look forward to the next game. In a league that is widely criticized for having a noncompetitive regular season, it's not a great idea to sleepwalk through playoff games.
But this is where Sexton will have his greatest impact. Like Johnson said, he is extremely fast with the basketball. No more so demonstrated with his buzzer beater against Texas A&M where he went coast to coast in just 4.4 seconds. Not to mention that game winner came in a do-or-die game in the SEC tournament. It also takes a lot of intelligence to know not to pull up for a three and trust that you have enough time to get to the rim.
But Sexton isn't just all about buzzer beaters and flashy finishes. He's also a willing defender despite his lack of elite size and is a great communicator. LeBron thrives when he has a teammate like this. Just look at his past championship teams, he has always had an elite guard alongside him. Whether it's Dwyane Wade or Kyrie Irving, both were huge pieces that propelled their respective teams to championships.
If I'm going to think realistically though, I think Sexton will be LeBronless at the start of the season. But that isn't a bad thing at all. James is great, there's no question about that. But it can't be denied that he has stalled or hurt the development of young players on his teams. Hell, the reason Kyrie left was so he didn't fall into Mario Chalmers territory. That's an overreaction but nonetheless, Sexton will have to lead his own team in the league. This is another area where he has experience in.
All throughout Alabama's postseason play, Sexton was the Rick to the rest of the teams Morty. In other words, he basically carried them. Now he has that responsibility indirectly put on him because he's their first-round pick. But instead of being surrounded by other 19- 22-year-olds, he's playing with some grown men, even if they are old. And if you've paid any attention to Sexton's basketball career, you'll know that he will relish the opportunity to lead an NBA team.