We’re halfway through July and Cavaliers restricted free agent Collin Sexton remains unsigned.
Sexton’s had no shortage of rumored suitors, including the Jazz, Lakers, and Spurs.
And yet, through it all, the Cavs have maintained their own interest in bringing back the 2017 lottery pick.
But if Sexton does depart in free agency, that leaves a gaping hole in Cleveland’s backcourt.
Last season, the two-guard slot was filled by a revolving door of players, including Caris LeVert and Isaac Okoro.
Both players are still on the Cavs roster and expect to be back next season, barring any mega-trades.
If Collin Sexton returns, he’ll likely be plugged in at the two-spot.
But who should step up in his place if Sexton departs?
The Case for Caris
Let’s assume for this exercise that the Cavs’ starting lineup will be locked in with Darius Garland, Jarrett Allen, Lauri Markkanen, and Evan Mobley.
All four started every game they appeared in last season.
Further, that quartet logged 460 minutes together last season, the second-most of any four Cavs players last season.
Another day, another opportunity to re-sign Collin Sexton. pic.twitter.com/GVHMFjUuHp
— Mack Perry (@DevaronPerry) July 19, 2022
That leaves a single slot for either LeVert or Okoro at the traditional two-guard spot.
In LeVert, the Cavs have a far more experienced player, albeit one who struggled to adapt to the Cavs’ system last season.
LeVert has shot a career 43.7% from the field and 33.3% from three.
Ideally, a team eying a deep playoff run likely wants a little better efficiency from a starting scoring guard.
And that’s really all LeVert is — a low-efficiency scoring guard.
He’s never posted a defensive rating below 110 (though he’s never posted an offensive rating above 107, either).
Even as a scorer, LeVert isn’t lighting up the basket.
His career high for points is 20.7, which he achieved in 35 games with the Pacers several seasons ago.
Last season, LeVert averaged 17 points with both the Cavs and Pacers.
Unless he comes back and suddenly excels in Cleveland’s system, he’s probably not THE starting option.
We move from one of the trickiest fits in Cleveland’s lineup to one of the most frustrating: Isaac Okoro.
He’s two seasons removed from a high lottery selection but hasn’t shown more than flashes of potential so far with Cleveland.
He did manage a significantly better sophomore season, escalating his offensive rating from 103 to 120.
30 in 30 | @footenoted
If it isn’t a C&S 3P or a layup for Isaac Okoro, it probably isn’t falling. Haven’t seen the development I’d hoped for yet:
🏀 18.9% non-RA paint looks
🏀 27% midrange (11 attempts all year)
🏀 78% total FGM assisted
Hoping for a year three breakout. 🤞🏻 pic.twitter.com/mAhtrnd2Fc
— Crashing Hoops (@CrashingHoops) July 17, 2022
Further, Okoro was an improved defensive player, lowering his defensive rating from an ungodly 120 to 113 (still not great).
Okoro’s not a significantly better shooter than LeVert, unfortunately.
From the field, Okoro is a career 44.6% shooter; from three, he’s been good on 31.5% of shots.
The strange part is Okoro is getting significant playing time.
Last season, he played roughly 30 minutes per night but failed to blossom in any meaningful way.
But in lineups featuring Okoro at the two-guard spot, the Cavs generally excelled as a team.
They were plus-12 in points against opponents with a marginally better field goal percentage (which might be more due to Jarrett Allen’s ability around the rim than Okoro).
Given that Okoro is still young and hopefully developing, expect the Cavs to give Okoro every opportunity to take his game to a new level next season.
But given these options, perhaps Collin Sexton’s return is looking a little better.
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