INDEPENDENCE — Cavaliers point guard Collin Sexton elevated his game considerably after not being selected to play in the Rising Stars Challenge over NBA All-Star Weekend.
He may have similar incentive entering his second pro season.
Sexton, who many thought had first-team credentials, received just the seventh-most points on 100 ballots (two points for first team and one for second) and ended up being a second-team All-Rookie selection, the league announced Tuesday.
The voting was done by a panel of sportswriters and broadcasters.
The 6-foot-2 Sexton, chosen out of Alabama with the No. 8 pick in the draft, led all rookies in free throw percentage (.839) and tied for first in games played (82), was second in 3-point percentage (.402) and minutes per game (31.8), third in scoring (16.7), fourth in field goal percentage (.430) and fifth in assists (3.0).
Sexton also became the third rookie in league history to average at least 16 points while shooting .400 or better from behind the arc, joining Larry Bird (1979-80) and Stephen Curry (2009-10).
Despite all that, he wasn’t among the top five rookies in the voting. Dallas’ Luka Doncic, the heavy favorite to be NBA Rookie of the Year, and Atlanta’s Trae Young were unanimous first-team selections, while Phoenix’s Deandre Ayton got 95 first-team votes and five for second team. Memphis’ Jaren Jackson Jr. (60 votes for first team, 39 for second, 159 voting points) and Sacramento’s Marvin Bagley III (56-44-156) rounded out the first team. All were top-five picks in the 2018 NBA Draft.
The Los Angeles Clippers’ Shai Gilgeous-Alexander (40-58-138) led the second team, followed by Sexton (39-54-132), the Clippers’ Landry Shamet (3-79-85), New York’s Mitchell Robinson (3-71-77) and Atlanta’s Kevin Huerter (1-43-45).
Sexton, who was left off seven ballots, became the first Cavs player — and 19th overall — to earn All-Rookie honors since Dion Waiters (first team) and Tyler Zeller (second) in 2013.
Despite posting impressive statistics, Sexton struggled mightily on the defensive end and often failed to see the floor offensively, though he improved in the latter area toward the end of the season.
New Cavs coach John Beilein, whose introductory news conference was held earlier Tuesday, used Sexton as an example of how he will implement analytics, noting a 23-point, two-rebound, three-assist, two-turnover game might not be nearly as productive as an 18-point, eight-assist, two-turnover game.
“You teach your staff what you think is important, but you also teach your players what really is a good game for you and what is a good game for your team,” Beilein said.
Sexton had his share of good outings while setting a team rookie record with 119 3-pointers. His 1,371 points were second among Cleveland rookies behind Ron Harper (1,874 in 1986-87) and LeBron James (1,654 in 2003-04). He also became the eighth Cavs rookie to appear in every game and the first since Andre Miller in 1999-2000.
Sexton’s 73 double-figure scoring games were the most among rookies this season. Included was an eight-game stretch with at least 20 points.
Outside of J.B. Bickerstaff, hired Sunday night as associate head coach, Beilein has not made any decisions about his staff.
There’s a chance other people interviewed during the team’s head coaching search could be brought in as assistants, and there’s also a possibility someone on the staff of previous coaches Tyronn Lue and Larry Drew could be retained.
“Everyone’s a candidate,” said Beilein, who added he would take his time before making any hires.
At the start of the news conference, a staged video that showed Beilein, Altman and Gilbert talking about Cavs assistant GM Mike Gansey, who played at Olmsted Falls High and for Beilein at West Virginia, was played.
In it, Beilein is asked why the Mountaineers played a 1-3-1 zone and he explains it was because Gansey “sucked defensively.”
“He’d stand there and guys would just go by him,” Beilein said in the video, causing Gansey to laugh heartily.
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- About 400 people, most of them Cavs employees or longtime season-ticket holders, attended the news conference.
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