When you think of talented Big Threes in the NBA, a trio like Kevin Durant, James Harden, and Kyrie Irving likely comes to mind. Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson, and Draymond Green are also at the top of that list.
But an up-and-coming one that the basketball world is just now starting to talk about is the Cleveland Cavaliers’ young core of Darius Garland, Jarrett Allen, and Evan Mobley. Those three, all of whom are younger than 24, have made Cleveland the most surprising team in the NBA. The Cavs are 29-19 and just 1.5 games out of first place in the Eastern Conference.
However, what if the already-loaded Cavaliers became even more lethal? There’s a chance they could do just that without even making a single trade at the Feb. 10 NBA trade deadline.
That’s because injured Cavs star Collin Sexton thinks he might be able to return for the playoffs.
Collin Sexton suffered a season-ending injury after becoming a star for the Cavs
Collin Sexton was the first young star the Cavaliers added during their rebuild following LeBron James’ move to LA. After going to Cleveland with the No. 8 overall pick in the 2018 NBA Draft, Sexton recorded 16.7 points per game as a rookie.
He took off in his second and third seasons, leading the team in scoring during both campaigns. Sexton averaged 20.8 points on 47.2% shooting in 2019-20 before posting 24.3 points per game on 47.5% shooting last season. He also averaged a career-high 4.4 assists in 2020-21.
This season, it appeared Sexton was taking a lesser role due to the emergence of Darius Garland, but he was playing well within Cleveland’s system. He averaged 16.0 points and was a major reason the team started the year 7-4 with wins over the Denver Nuggets and Los Angeles Clippers.
But Sexton tore his meniscus on Nov. 7 and elected to have season-ending surgery. He has since had to watch the Cavs become one of the NBA’s most exciting teams from afar.
He could return to the court if the Cavaliers make the playoffs
Collin Sexton recently spoke with Chris Fedor of Cleveland.com, and he gave an update about his injury and rehab process. He’s isn’t doing anything significant yet. The Alabama product recently posted videos of himself dribbling and shooting while sitting in a chair. But he’s looking forward to seeing how his recovery progresses in the coming months.
“When I’m feeling 100% and when my body tells me I’m ready (is when he will return),” Sexton said. “When my body tells me I’m at a good place and a good time, that’s when I’m going to give it a go. I feel good physically as well as mentally. I’m excited to see what happens the next couple of months and see where it goes.”
OK, so what happens if the Cavs make a postseason run? Will he be able to return by then?
Sexton is keeping that door open.
“We will see. Definitely will see,” he said.
Sources told Fedor that the Cavs don’t expect Sexton to come back for a playoff run, but they have also learned not to underestimate him.
Either way, Sexton will be an interesting name to follow for the rest of the season.
Collin Sexton could play a role in a Cavs’ playoff run one way or another
It would be great to see Collin Sexton return from injury this season. He has become an automatic bucket with his ability to score near the rim and shoot a high percentage from deep. That would just give the Cavaliers another scoring option in addition to their Big Three. He would essentially make it a Big Four with how much he scored the last two seasons.
However, he could still impact the roster by not even taking the court.
The Cavs have had numerous rumors surrounding them leading up to the NBA trade deadline. Sexton will be a restricted free agent this summer, so he could be an asset they could use in a trade. He would give someone an excellent scoring option and would likely sign a team-friendly deal due to his injury. With the Cavs showing a willingness to win, there’s a decent chance he could be dealt.
If he does stay on the roster, though, it will be interesting to see what the Cavaliers do this offseason. Will they be the organization to sign him to a team-friendly deal? It would be huge if they could trade for another weapon before the deadline without having to give him up. That would allow them to try to win this season and become even more dangerous with a healthy Sexton next year.
All in all, Sexton’s future is as unclear as a foggy mirror, but he’s the one piece who could make the already dangerous Cavs more lethal. Either his return to the court or role in a blockbuster trade could result in the Cavaliers contending for the Eastern Conference title this spring.
Stats courtesy of Basketball Reference