After a report came out that the Cleveland Cavaliers have begun exploring trade options for Collin Sexton, the Miami Heat’s name got thrown around social media. Why is that? Well, if any player hits the trading block this off-season, there’s no doubt in my mind he will get linked to Miami in some way.
Aside from that, this piece will be about the fit with the Heat, since there’s enough transaction talk going around when discussing these type of trades. Personally, before diving into it, I like the fit, but it does become interesting when discussing the players going out the door.
It’s very clear that Miami lacks a ton of assets, and though you’re opinion may differ about Tyler Herro at this stage, he’s their one and only asset. Does the organization believe Sexton will make the difference to try and contend in Jimmy Butler’s window? Well, that’s up to them.
The comfort levels rise if you can make that move along with adding Kyle Lowry, but there must be a certain amount of confidence about that back-court meshing. In my opinion, Lowry’s off-ball abilities allow this to work offensively, while he can possibly size up defensively if needed.
Anyways, let’s get right into some of the film on Sexton, beginning with a lot from his match-up with the Brooklyn Nets earlier in the season, where he recorded 42 points on a career night…
When focusing on the defensive end with a bunch of players, I always begin with the attributes and capabilities that guy has. The thing about Sexton, is that he forces you to begin in a much different area: his will on that end.
People knew from the moment he played in high school to going 3 on 5 in a college game to a photo surfacing the internet in Summer League, as he locked in on his match-up, that he competes on that end of the floor and doesn’t take plays off. That’s a Miami Heat guy.
He may not be the greatest defender up to this point, but it seems like the defensive potential outweighs the other stuff.
It doesn’t matter if, arguably, the best scorer to play the game of basketball is hitting the open court, he’s going to chase him down to at least try and get the stop. On this play, he did just that, and gave him a pretty great clip to add to the highlight reel.
This element of his game alone showcases an upgrade, but as I mentioned earlier, is it enough of an upgrade? Once again, that can only be answered by the front office, but it feels like a guy with that type of skill-set already is quite the enticing piece for a franchise.
The Mid-Range in Two Parts
I always touch on the mid-range in these articles, and there’s a reason. For one, I believe it holds more importance than some like to acknowledge as the love for the three-point line has expanded. But it’s also essential to dive into regarding the ways you can score in that area.
I’ve talked about guys like Herro and Kendrick Nunn getting to the mid-range all season where they thrive, but that’s due to the fact the elbow pull-up seems to be their only option at times. Sexton is able to mix that up as most of the top scorers can, but it always starts with the basics…
He’s very capable of getting to that elbow/free throw line area, as he increased the attempts on his pull-up, but more importantly, efficiency rose with it. After shooting a little over 41% on the mid-range pull up, he increased that to 44% this past season.
If you want to get an idea of how the ranks against some of the Heat’s guards, Herro shot 40% and Nunn shot 41% on the mid-range pull-up this past season. But the true difference maker occurs in the second part of this discussion…
As explained previously, it has been harped on with the Heat’s guards due to them lacking diversity on the ball. We’ve talked about needing a constant screen in those spots, but Sexton has shown improvements this past season.
Offensive creativity seems to be an area of need for this Heat team, and he gives them some of that. By that, I mean scoring in different ways, aside from the pick and roll pull-ups. As seen above, he’s able to take it downhill one-on-one. The interesting thing about him is that he’s quite physical, and by the way, that’s another translating factor.
That physicality leads to the creativity that I’m discussing, such as the one-legged fade-away on this possession. That’s just a single example, but you get the point: that secondary option in the half-court changes things for a team.
In a league that plays a ton of drop coverage, of course it’s important to get to those dead spots, but it doesn’t stop there. You need a guy that can do that, along with forcing mismatches against switching defenses, and Sexton gives you that.
Added Attempts from Deep
The pull-up three wasn’t Sexton’s best friend this season and I don’t believe many expected it to be. After shooting 35% the year before, that number went down to 31%, which comes with the territory of attempting more of them on a bad team.
That situation basically eliminates a ton of catch and shoot threes, even on a team that has a constant chain of point guards, but that’s where I’m intrigued. Yes, the Heat need a point guard, and I’ll show next how that can be useful, but the spot-up stuff makes things interesting.
He shot 40% on catch and shoot threes this year, and when creators like Butler and Adebayo are on the floor, that number will increase. Plus, if we’re acting as if Lowry would be on the squad as well, then spot-up shooting becomes even more crucial for Sexton. And when narrowing things down for a player in a structured franchise, it can happen quickly.
But as seen in the clip above, we see tremendous growth as an outside shooter, even if the overall numbers don’t show it. Taking the lengthy Kevin Durant off the dribble late in a game is no cake walk for a small guard, but combining that confidence and lift is quite the outcome for a tough bucket.
In the second clip, Jeff Green is guarding him tightly, and defends the shot attempt perfectly. The thing is that Sexton mixing in that side step changes some things. Not to constantly relate things back to the Heat’s guards, but this is where those small layers come in handy. Continuing to build on that skill puts defenses in an awkward position.
Speaking of those point guard attributes, we get a taste of that here. I honestly hate talking about the pace of a player, since it gets thrown around so freely when talking about basketball, but that’s a key part of Sexton’s PnR success.
Let’s take a look at the first clip above. The takeaway may be that his slow pacing following the snake dribble led to a perfect lob pass, but there’s something small in there that must be noted. When passing the free throw line, he turns his head slightly, and that tells me a couple things.
For one, the patience that he has in these spots is super impressive, awaiting the roller before being put in no man’s land. Secondly, and more importantly, he basically controls the tagger, in PJ Tucker. That head movement, surveying the corner, freezes Tucker into a decision making stage. When a 22 year old can do that in these offensive sets, you’ve got something special.
The other thing about this is the Heat wouldn’t be relying super heavily on his play-making and creation, and that could be beneficial. Not only am I talking about Butler and Adebayo, but as mentioned earlier, this could be Lowry in these sets at times if that move was made.
Also, reiterating an earlier point, Lowry being able to play off the ball so effortlessly makes me think PnR dissecting could be left to Sexton. But the overarching takeaway is that they would have options, and Erik Spoelstra loves options.
The Hidden Gem
Sexton had a pretty great night against Miami early in the season, so why not highlight the element that he ran into the ground against them: off-ball cutting.
Off-ball shooting question marks may be one thing, but trust me, there are no question marks next to his ways of navigation among screeners to receive the ball in stride. If you wanted a video example, I could just show most of his scoring possessions against Miami, but let’s just take a look at this one above…
For one, this action has two of the most versatile defensive wings in the league in it, Butler and Trevor Ariza. Butler goes over on the screen as Sexton dives, and Ariza doesn’t cut it off. Easy bucket for Sexton.
Why is this important to note? Well, this is Miami’s offense. The utilization of screening for easy buckets at the rim in their movement offense is something they harp on, and the addition of somebody that fits that offensive mold seems like a no brainer.
This whole discussion is going to come down to how Miami elects to treat the limited assets that they have, and the value that they feel they can get in return. But if you’re asking me if Sexton fits the things that Miami likes to do on both ends of the floor, it’s undeniable that it’s a perfect fit for not only the Heat, but also Sexton.
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