Collin Sexton is regarded as one of the top point guards in this year’s draft. His draft profile shows potential, yet for the New York Knicks, his weaknesses may ultimately lead to buyer’s remorse.
To their credit, both Scott Perry and Steve Mills have sounded like a broken record when discussing their draft strategy. And this is a good thing. Perry has been on record as saying that the New York Knicks will take the best player available in June.
Although the Knicks have at least three point guards on the roster, the front office must be ready to select another point guard if that is the best player available.
Despite receiving solid contributions from Frank Ntilikina, Trey Burke, and Emmanuel Mudiay, they are all flawed point guards. Both Burke and Mudiay desperately need to improve their defense while Ntilikina needs to continue to improve his offense.
However, above all, the Knicks are in need of a dynamic playmaker. They need the number 10 on the soccer field; the player who unlocks other’s potential and makes the game easier for everyone else. In time this may be Ntilikina, but it’s too early to tell.
Collin Sexton, at 19 years of age may have a bright future ahead of him. Sexton finished his freshmen year at Alabama with 19.2 points per game, 3.6 assists per game, and 3.8 rebounds per game.
Sexton may be the second point guard drafted behind Trae Young, but he is not without his faults. In fact, a deep dive into his strengths and weaknesses will leave most fans questioning his overall ceiling as a player and fit the team.
Without a doubt, Sexton’s biggest strength is his motor and character. According to draftexpress.com, Sexton is a “tough kid who plays with a chip on his shoulder”. You can almost hear David Fizdale salivating as he tells the New York media that he doesn’t want “soft” guys on his team. There’s no question that Sexton will not shy away from contact and will be aggressive in his approach to the game.
In 2016, Ricky O’Donnell of SB Nation chronicled Sexton’s rise from an unranked basketball player to a five-star recruit. O’Donnell details Sexton’s Russell Westbrook like competitive nature and work ethic as prime reasons that he made the Under-17 National team and ended up winning MVP at his first international tournament.
“Sexton’s ascent is the story of self-improvement through sheer will power, the idea that play can upstage politics and old-fashioned hard work can get you anywhere.”
In addition to a tireless work ethic, Sexton’s athleticism has been described as elite. Sites like NBAdraft.net and draftexpress.com characterize Sexton’s physical tools with words like “blazing speed” and “explosive leaper in space”. Even the latest evaluation from The Stepien portrays Sexton as having “exceptional speed and quickness”.
However, in the Ode to Oden podcast, both Sean Derenthal and Cole Zwicker gave a more comprehensive analysis of Sexton’s athletic skills and overall game. In essence, they gave more praise to Sexton’s ability to change speeds in the open court as opposed to his overall speed and leaping ability.
Despite this, almost across the board, scouts love Sexton’s ability to draw fouls and play with a physical presence. He’s even drawn some comparisons to Eric Bledsoe. Sexton was top 15 in the NCAA in free throws made with 196. He also ranked seventh in free throws attempted with 252, one shy of fellow freshmen guard Trae Young.
Within the same podcast, both Zwicker and Derenthal praised Sexton’s defense as a general strength. Sexton consistently applies good ball pressure to opposing players and looks to force players to their weaker hand. Sexton is also decent at recognizing rotations when the ball moves off the pick and roll.
Although most coaches will love Sexton’s intensity, it can also be a weakness at times. Sexton’s emotions can get the best of him and this can lead to bad shots, unnecessary fouls, and unforced turnovers. Sexton averaged close to three turnovers per game this past season, and the ball pressure he receives as a lead guard in NBA will be much tougher.
However, Sexton’s main weakness or at least the one that should be most relevant to the Knicks is his playmaking ability. Jonathan Wasserman of Bleacher Report writes about the often compared freshmen point guards Young and Sexton, and their potential fit in the NBA.
“In terms of style of play, Young is more of a setup man or facilitator who’ll break down defenses to create shots for teammates. He averaged 8.7 assists, while Sexton (3.6 assists per game) never recorded more than seven assists in a game all season. That raises questions about his upside and fit as a starting NBA point guard.”
Additionally, Zwicker on the Ode to Oden podcast mentions that Sexton doesn’t make advanced reads in the pick and roll. To elaborate, Sexton can hit the roll man but struggles to make other plays if the first option is not open. Sexton also struggles with driving and kicking out to open shooters which would be absolutely necessary with players like Tim Hardaway Jr. and Kristaps Porzingis on the team.
Shooting with consistency is also an issue for Sexton. Last season he shot 33 percent from the three-point line and 77 percent from the free-throw line. Sexton’s shooting mechanics are certainly unique. At times it looks like a fairly straight shot with little to no arc. While this is an area where he can improve, the Knicks will need to consider how defenses will ultimately go under the screens when guarding him. Similar defensive strategies have been used against Mudiay and, at times, Ntilikina.
Overall, I think Sexton will be available when the Knicks are ready to draft at the number nine position. However, I think Sexton’s best fit may be with the Los Angeles Clippers who have two lottery picks in this year’s draft.
At first glance, Sexton may seem tailor-made for a Fizdale team because of his competitiveness. I could easily see fans loving his aggression and grit. Yet, the truth is that Sexton is a flawed, scoring point guard that does not fit on a Knicks roster with other flawed point guards.
I don’t see Sexton really separating himself from any one of the Knicks current point guards, besides Mudiay. As a result, the Knicks need to pass on Sexton and identify a playmaker or defensive wing that truly makes a significant impact on their young roster.
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