CLEVELAND, OH – Thanks to another solid performance in a 132-129 overtime win over the visiting San Antonio Spurs, second-year point guard Collin Sexton is helping the Cleveland Cavaliers forget about former All-Star Kyrie Irving.
Irving, drafted No.1 overall out of Duke in the 2011 NBA Draft, forced his way out of Cleveland, one season after the Cavs’ improbable Finals comeback win over the Golden State Warriors in seven games. In his six seasons, Irving was the second option to LeBron James and was highly regarded as one of the league’s most gifted scorers—and arguably the best handles—in all of hoops.
Make no mistake, Sexton is nowhere close to Irving’s class yet, but considering that Irving’s—at times—standoffish behavior towards Cleveland-area media, fans and teammates, in addition to never being able to stay fully healthy, it was a bitter divorce for the former Duke Blue Devil standout—who only played 11 games down in Durham—and has sadly seen the trend of injury issues and leaving teams on bad terms.
From Cleveland to Boston—and now Brooklyn—Irving is tragically the NBA’s most gifted injury-prone bad luck jinx.
In nine NBA seasons in Cleveland, Boston and Brooklyn, Irving has played 528 out of a possible 738 regular season games (71.5 percent) and in his first two seasons in Cleveland, Irving played 110 out of a possible 164 regular season games (67 percent).
In comparison, in his first two seasons in Cleveland, Sexton has played 136 out of a possible 164 games at this point (82.9 percent).
Scoring wise, both players are eerily close. In his first two years in Cleveland, Irving averaged 20.5 points, 3.7 rebounds, 5.6 assists, 39.5 percent from three-point range and 46 percent from the field, while Sexton has averaged 18.5 points, 2.9 assists, 3.0 rebounds, 39.2 percent from three-point range and 44.8 percent from the field.
Many will argue—and rightfully so, that while Irving has the better numbers, that one of the knocks in his career is that he’s always been a high-volume scorer with a very high ball usage.
Basically, in layman’s terms, he’s a ball-hog, who has never made any team better, as evidenced by the Jason Tatum-led Celtics improbable run to the 2018 East Finals without him.
For all of his many accolades and championship pedigree, Irving is a glorified me-first prima donna, that if he isn’t the “main guy” on a team, he checks out and quits. Look no further than his flameout in Boston, or his last year in Cleveland.
While Sexton doesn’t have his handle, or knack for making the dramatic shot—like Irving did in Game 7 at The Oracle—he also doesn’t have any of Irving’s drama or weird quirks. And from all accounts, is very well liked by his teammates.
Sexton is the anti-Kyrie, and while Irving has all the fancy bells and whistles that some want, Sexton is proving to be not only a quality replacement, but slowly making a name for himself as one of the best point guards in the league.