National Basketball Association

Coming Out Party

January 21

The Brooklyn Nets "Big 3" of Kyrie Irving, Kevin Durant, and James Harden all suited up for the first time together on Wednesday against the Cleveland Cavaliers.

And when the final whistle blew, none of the three was the talk of the evening. 

Their debut was spoiled with a 147-135 loss, and most of the damage inflicted by Cleveland came at the hand of third-year guard Collin Sexton.

Sexton scored 42 points in a dominant performance against the Nets, including the 3-pointer to send the game to double overtime.

But it wasn't just the 42 points that were impressive from Sexton.

It was the fact he put an undermanned and struggling Cavs team – losers of five of their last seven coming into the game – on his back and willed it to victory without starting backcourt mate Darius Garland and big man Kevin Love. 

Sexton's scoring outburst in the overtime periods was reminiscent of one put on by LeBron James during his tenure with the Cavaliers.

However, Wednesday didn't serve as an aberration for Sexton. In fact, it was part of the norm.

He first announced his arrival to the basketball world with a similar second-half scoring binge as a freshman at the University of Alabama in a matchup against the University of Minnesota.

Those type of scoring instincts made him the No. 8 overall pick in the 2018 NBA Draft by the Cavaliers, a pick they acquired when trading Irving to the Boston Celtics.

As a rookie in 2018, he averaged 16.7 points while shooting 43 percent from the field, and in his sophomore campaign, he averaged 20.8 points and shot 47 percent from the field.

Now in year three, Sexton has taken his game to even greater heights. In nine games played, he's putting up 27.0 points and shooting 53.4 percent from the field, as well as 50 percent from three-point range, all career-highs.

Sexton's coming out party has been in motion since late last season, and as Chris Fedor of Cleveland.com detailed, this has become the expectation within the Cavaliers organization.

"This isn’t new. He’s been doing it since last December. Wednesday just happened to be the night Sexton finally forced everyone to stand up and take notice."

With his emergence, Sexton is taking steps toward establishing himself as the Cavaliers' franchise player, and with Garland next to him in the backcourt to help with ball-handling duties, Sexton's scoring prowess has become the focus of his game, as explained by Jonathan Tjarks of The Ringer.

"The Cavs are no longer asking Sexton to be a point guard. They drafted him at No. 8 in 2018 and gave him the keys to the offense as a rookie, but that was never his game. He’s not Luka Doncic or Trae Young, who can score and pass at a high level. Sexton walks on the court for only one reason."

Currently, the Cavaliers are off to a 7-7 start and are in sixth in the Eastern Conference standings, thanks in large part to Sexton.

Wednesday's coming-out party was a fun one.

But whatever radar Sexton was under before, it is now gone.


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