Playoffs? Sexton Boldly Predicts They Are Coming Soon For Cavs
Prior to the NBA hiatus, the Cleveland Cavaliers jumbled and stumbled their way to a 19-46 record, worst in the Eastern Conference.
But that didn't keep second-year combo guard Collin Sexton from feeling good about the future.
Well, good enough to predict that the Cavaliers will make the playoffs very soon.
"Next season," he told Morten Jensen of Forbes.com prior to the hiatus.
Jensen wrote that he asked Sexton if he was serious and Sexton responded, "Yes. Next season."
Now, it's hard to know when next season will actually take place. The NBA is still figuring out what to do about this season, and if the coronavirus pandemic will ever dissipate enough to allow play to resume.
Next season could be a ways away, or it could start on time. We just don't know.
One thing that is looking more and more likely is that for non-playoff teams such as the Cavs, this season is probably over. The NBA very well could just go straight to the playoffs if it bothers to re-start at all.
But let's not call Sexton crazy for his playoff prediction just yet.
He has reason to feel confident as the team's leading scorer (20.8 ppg) and player who has continued to show improvement in all areas. Is Sexton a LeBron James or even Kyrie Irving? Absolutely not. Those guys were No. 1 overall draft picks.
But at worst, Sexton plays hard, doesn't miss games and can put the ball in the basket.
As for the Cavs overall, things were picking up right before the league suspended play March 11. They were clearly motivated by the coaching change to J.B. Bickerstaff (from John Beilein), compiling a 5-6 record after the All-Star break.
More importantly than the record was the fact they were starting to play as a team in the truest sense. They were showing promise and cohesion, playing hard and living with the results. Mostly, they were seemingly having fun.
But before we can talk playoffs, we need to talk offseason. Whenever that comes, Cavs general manager Koby Altman and his staff will have some work to do.
Altman has tackled the job with the passion of a die-hard fan who was picked to run his favorite team. He will have another lottery pick, perhaps in the top three, at his disposal. He will likely negotiate with valued center Tristan Thompson, who is entering restricted free agency. He may have to do the same with center Andre Drummond, who has an option on his contract.
And those are just the most obvious decisions Altman faces. Sometimes, it's the smaller ones that can prove to matter most.
Either way, Sexton clearly likes where things appear to be headed.
"I believe in my team, and the organization as a whole, and we’re going to figure it out," he told Jensen. "We have a lot of fight and I love playing with the guys, so we’re definitely going to figure it out. Right now, with J.B. as the new coach, we’re moving in the right direction."
Sam Amico covers the NBA and Cleveland Cavaliers for SI.com. Follow him @AmicoHoops.