Cavs' Sexton Working On Game, Staying Connected And Keeping The Faith
Collin Sexton is back home in Georgia but his mind is on the Cleveland Cavaliers.
The second-year guard is thinking about his teammates, about how the Cavs were 5-6 and showing signs of improvement under coach J.B. Bickerstaff.
Then everything just ... stopped. The NBA suspended the season March 11 because of the coronavirus pandemic. There's no telling when or if the season will return.
"I'm doing good. I've just been working out, staying in shape and pretty much staying sharp," Sexton said Thursday during an appearance with Andy Baskin and Jeff Phelps on 92.3 The Fan. "Everyone is healthy and safe right now during this tough time. It feels like the world is on pause."
Sexton said he is getting up some shots, playing his older brother in games of one-on-one or H-O-R-S-E, and running and biking to stay in shape.
Along with all that, he and his teammates have been taking part in some yoga together via the popular Zoom app.
At other times, they get together on Zoom just to visit and stay connected.
All of it is part of the bonding process that may have helped the Cavs show progress right before the hiatus.
"We're just gonna continue to grow and build that relationship, so when we're out there it's a brotherhood and we're playing for one another," he said. "That comes off the court. We have to make sure we're communicating off the court, making sure we're together. Just keeping that instant communication no matter what. We're definitely going to grow in the future."
Sexton is 6-foot-1 and has been available every minute of his pro career. He leads the Cavs at 20.8 points per game and scored 25 or more in the last five games before the hiatus.
He said he is getting a better understanding of when to shoot and when to do the other things, which has led to his maturity as a player.
"When I let the game come to me, I'm able to score. When I rush it, it's hard to have a good game, because I'm out there forcing," he said. "But when I let the game come to me, that's when I'm at my best, when I'm just making a simple play."
Sexton and the Cavs clearly enjoying playing for Bickerstaff and what comes across as his relaxed, understanding approach.
"Coach J.B. is gonna fight for you. Whenever he feels like it's a bad call, you'll see him yelling at the referees and stuff like that," Sexton said. "He just wants the best from each and every player.
"So if he's yelling at you, it's coming from a good place. He's been there in the league. He's been where we want to get to. He's been around it for years, he grew up around it. So we all know what he's capable of and we all trust him."
Bickerstaff is actually Sexton's fourth NBA coach in less than two seasons -- from Tyronn Lue to Larry Drew to John Beilein to Bickerstaff.
But Sexton doesn't seem to mind. He has taken something from each.
"Since I got in the league, the first couple months with Ty Lue, he was like, 'I'm gonna need you to step out and shoot the three a little more,'" Sexton said. "With Larry Drew, he just wanted me to go out there and lead the team. And then Coach Beilein, he wanted to make sure I ran the floor, get to the corners sometimes, just simple stuff that I never thought about.
"Now with Coach J.B., he just wants me to go out there and play free. As I move forward, I can remember all those things, keep them in the back of my head, as I go out and play."
It's pretty clear Sexton is like everyone else and wants the world to get back to normal sooner rather than later.
That's especially the case when it comes to the Cavs. With the likes of Sexton, Darius Garland, Kevin Porter Jr. and veteran title-winners Kevin Love and Tristan Thompson and the rest, things finally seemed to be on the up and up.
"It's kind of tough. We're at the end of the season and we want to finish strong so this chemistry that we had will roll over to next season," Sexton said. "We go and win 10 out of the next, what, 16 games and that would be a really good end to the season.
"I felt like we were getting into a good rhythm. I feel like it's very important to get these games back, just because we had 11 games under J.B. We're still trying to understand him, and he's still trying to understand us as the head coach."
In the meantime, Sexton and the Cavs can only wait and wonder what's next for the NBA, just like the rest of us.
"As far as turning the pages, if this continues to go on and the virus continues to get bad, who knows what the NBA will do?" he said. "They might just call it a season or go straight into the playoffs. It's tough like that. It's a hard decision to make."
Sam Amico covers pro basketball for SI.com. Follow him @AmicoHoops.