The No. 8 pick in the 2018 NBA Draft might end up being the most important choice that the Cleveland Cavaliers have made since they took LeBron James in 2003.
Fresh off of their fourth-straight trip to the Finals, James is expected to decline his player option and become an unrestricted free agent this summer.
That being said, there’s a major threat that LeBron could end up leaving Cleveland for the second time.
Therefore, knowing that some roster improvements must be made in order to fully convince James to stay put, the eighth pick held a lot of value.
Since more moves will need to be made, choosing the best player available was the presumed strategy for general manager Koby Altman and the front office staff.
That’s exactly what the Cavs did, drafting point guard Collin Sexton out of the University of Alabama despite the fact that both George Hill and Jordan Clarkson are signed for multiple seasons moving forward.
The 19 year old averaged 19.2 points and 3.6 assists in his one-and-done season for the Crimson Tide.
As perhaps the most competitive prospect in this year’s class, Sexton’s ascension to this point is an astounding story. Long story short, he went from an unranked high school prospect to a college star in a very quick and unexpected way.
“It just shows all my hard work paid off,” Sexton told ESPN’s Maria Taylor during his on-air interview after he walked across the stage. “I just grinded. I started at the bottom and came back up to the top. That’s the biggest thing, just to show people what I can do.”
When asked to convince LeBron to stay in Cleveland, he spoke from the heart.
“Man, LeBron, let’s do it!” Sexton said. “Let’s do it. I see you needed a few pieces — one or two pieces last season — and let’s do it. Let’s go back to the Finals. Let’s do it!”
Drafting Sexton could result in one of a few possible outcomes for Cleveland.
The Cavs can choose to ease him into the NBA and bring him off the bench on their second unit in a limited role until he develops. ESPN’s Dave McMenamin noted that the Cavs were more impressed with Sexton as a person than him as a player in his workout with the team.
Or, they could move either Hill or Clarkson (or both) via trade in an attempt to alter the team’s talent, therefore giving Sexton a prominent role right away.
Or, they could use Sexton as an asset in a potential trade.
All three are logical outcomes and all three likely hinge on whether or not James is in the picture. It will be interesting to see if Sexton suits up for Cleveland this fall. If so, it will be even more interesting to find out what role he will play, especially if LeBron returns.