Drafted by the Cavs 10 days before LeBron James left Ohio, the rookie went through the gauntlet of emotions before arriving where he is now as the expected future face of the franchise. But the 19-year-old Atlantan isn’t shy about his abilities, and is ready to step into at least part of the leadership void left by James.
“Honestly, I felt like at Alabama I turned into a leader very fast, very quick,” Sexton said on Wednesday after scoring 25 points in the Cavs’ summer league win over the Sacramento Kings. “So it’s just going to translate. But it’s a different group of guys now, especially since they’re older, they have egos.”
Yet in Sexton, the Cavs have a potentially explosive scorer at the point guard position – much like what transpired after the last time James bolted Cleveland and the Cavs later drafted Kyrie Irving.
Sexton is not Irving, even if he has his old number. But he’s confident in his ability be an NBA scorer and run the pick-and-roll.
“Honestly I just go out there and play,” he said.
That bulldog mentality serves Sexton well. Like fellow 2018 draftee Trae Young, concerns exist regarding his size. However, while Young is far more slight, Sexton is muscular with broad shoulders. That helps when barreling into defenses.
It may only be summer league, but the level of physicality is ratcheted up from the NCAA level. Sexton isn't bothered by that and knows the intensity will increase when games start to count.
“I’m just going out there and playing like I played in college,” he said. “And honestly, I feel like I’m playing a lot better.”
That could be good news for Cavs fans, who have been on a roller coaster ride like no other for the last decade. If Sexton is indeed ready to step up and play at a high level, the game he played for the Crimson Tide last Nov. 25 could be a shining example of his difference-making ability. Leading an undermanned squad against Minnesota after multiple injuries and ejections, he scored 31 of his 40 points in the second half and almost pulled off a miraculous victory.
He knows that adds weight to his resume.
"They have high expectations for me when I’m out there on the court," Sexton said.
This could have played out differently. He could have eased into the NBA as a sixth man off the bench behind James.
But life's not always easy, and Sexton says he's ready. The end result may be selling a lot more No. 2 Cavs jerseys in northeast Ohio.