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NBA PM: Finding a Draft Steal

Draymond Green is clearly the steal of the 2012 Draft, but how can teams find more gems like him in this year’s Draft?

Joel Brigham

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Every year, immediately following the draft, there are about a million articles on the internet discussing who the “steals” of that draft were. But that of course is ridiculous because until we see these kids play for a year or three, there’s very little way of knowing which of those bargain-buy draft picks will ultimately pan out. Plenty of them drop in the ranks for good reasons.

The following examines the players in the last three drafts who did ultimately prove to be steals in an attempt to discover if there are any overlying themes as to why they dropped on draft night or why they ultimately ended up outperforming their draft position.

It’s not easy to find a diamond in the rough, but executives try every year. Here’s a look at a few who proved plenty valuable, and why they weren’t picked as high on draft night as they apparently should have been:

2014 NBA Draft

Elfrid Payton, Philadelphia 76ers, traded to Orlando Magic (1st Round, 10th overall selection) – Coming out of Louisiana-Lafayette, Payton was the kind of small school kid that represented too much of a gamble to be selected much higher than he was. Also, his shooting woes in college aren’t typically the kind of thing that translates all that well to the NBA, so there weren’t a lot of teams interested in spending a high pick on a point guard who can’t knock down three-pointers. Despite that, Payton looked great as a rookie, leading all first-year kids in assists with 6.5 per game (8.5 per game after the All-Star break) and he’s a good rebounder for his position, as well.

Jusuf Nurkic, Chicago Bulls, traded to Denver Nuggets (1st Round, 16th overall selection) – It was a weird season for the Nuggets all around. But from what we were able to see from Nurkic, especially after Timofey Mozgov and JaVale McGee were traded, he looks like he’ll be a solid pro. Nurkic finished with the second-highest PER among rookies this season (15.00) and averaged 6.8 PPG and 6.1 RPG in under 18 minutes per contest. Per-36 minutes, that puts him right about at 13 points and 12 boards a night, and considering he’s only 20 years old, those are intriguing numbers. How does so young and talented a seven-footer come off the board this late in the first round? Because international prospects are hard to peg, and the Nuggets were the first team willing to take the risk on the Bosnian big man.

Jordan Clarkson, Washington Wizards, traded to L.A. Lakers (2nd Round, 46th overall selection) – After a slow start in Los Angeles, in which Clarkson hardly played at all, he rounded out the year with some massive scoring games, averaging 16 PPG, 5.3 APG and 4.7 RPG after the break. He slipped in the draft a little because at 6’5” a lot of teams weren’t really sure if he was going to be a big point guard with sloppy handles or a slightly undersized shooting guard. Either way he must have felt like too much of a tweener to burn a first-round pick on. He also came into the league a little light at only 190 lbs, but apparently his aggressive style translated well enough to the NBA game for him to thrive with an excellent opportunity in L.A. We’ll see if he continues playing that well or if his success was more a result of his circumstances last season.

2013 NBA Draft

Nerlens Noel, New Orleans Pelicans, traded to Philadelphia 76ers (1st Round, 6th overall selection) – While it looks now like Noel was worth the one-year wait, it was his torn ACL that dropped what some thought would have been the #1 pick in a weak 2013 draft all the way to the 6th overall selection. That’s why Philadelphia snatched him where they did (they also got an extra first-round pick in the deal that shipped Jrue Holiday to New Orleans), and so far that’s looked like quite a bargain, as Noel averaged 9.9 PPG and 8.1 RPG his rookie season to go along with 1.8 steals and 1.9 blocks per game. The pick looks even better considering there were teams who felt like Anthony Bennett, Otto Porter and Cody Zeller were better selections ahead of Noel.

Giannis Antetokounmpo, Milwaukee Bucks (1st Round, 15th overall selection) – At the time it was something of a surprising pick for Milwaukee to make, but there wasn’t a lot left on the board by pick #15 so they went with the high-ceiling international kid with plenty of youth and freakish measureables. He came into the league about as raw as raw comes, but in just two years he has been given plenty of opportunity to blossom for a Bucks team that had no reason not to give him minutes early. His 12.7 PPG and 6.7 rebounds as a sophomore are clearly just the beginning of something special, though at the time no one had any idea if the gamble would work out.

Gorgui Dieng, Utah Jazz, traded to Minnesota Timberwolves (1st Round, 21st overall selection) – Coming off a championship season at Louisville, it was no mystery why Dieng was a first-round draft selection. But considering his success in the NBA (9.7 PPG, 8.3 RPG and 1.7 BPG as a sophomore) it’s kind of surprising he fell as late in the first round as he did. He wasn’t the shiniest name back in 2013 in large part because he was viewed as a one-dimensional player. Just two years later we now know how valuable rim protectors are in today’s NBA, and Dieng has proven to be more versatile than many scouts apparently thought possible.

Mason Plumlee, Brooklyn Nets (1st Round, 22nd overall selection) – There really is no good reason why Plumlee dropped as far as he did in the 2013 Draft, especially considering his athleticism paired with his 7’0” frame (Meyers Leonard was essentially a lottery pick the year before in a more stacked draft), but sometimes there are just players that end up being a consequence of the way the cookies crumble in a given year. Plumlee could have gone five-to-seven picks higher and no one would have batted an eyelash, but he fell to Brooklyn, where he’s had a productive couple of seasons. Originally thought of as a backup big, Plumlee has proved himself more than capable of starting for a number of NBA teams.

2012 NBA Draft

Andre Drummond, Detroit Pistons (1st Round, 9th overall selection) – The knock on Drummond back in 2012 was his lack of drive. The entire narrative on the kid leading into that draft was that he didn’t really care about basketball, that he was more concerned with the party lifestyle that the NBA would provide him, and since he went to UConn that made it really easy to compare him to massive bust Hasheem Thabeet. Drummond, however, has been nothing like Thabeet in his first three seasons, mostly because he’s been really, really good. He’s the worst free throw shooter of his generation, but he also averaged 13.8 PPG, 13.5 RPG and 1.9 BPG last season. He’s a big man on the rise, and in 2012 the top eight teams couldn’t wait to pass on him.

Jared Sullinger, Boston Celtics (1st Round, 21st overall selection) – For two straight seasons, Sullinger has averaged at least 13.3 PPG and 7.6 RPG, and while injuries have been an issue for him, there weren’t a whole lot of players Boston could have picked that late in the first round who would have proven to be better values. Sullinger’s knock in 2012 was a last-minute injury issue that got him red-flagged, and that caused him to absolutely tumble down the first round after originally being projected as a lottery pick. It turns out that the injury concerns were somewhat valid, but 50-60 games of Sullinger is certainly more valuable than what we’ve seen out of Royce White, Tyler Zeller and Andrew Nicholson, all picked in the five selections before Sullinger.

Draymond Green, Golden State Warriors (2nd Round, 35th overall selection) – There clearly is no way Green should have been a second-round pick, but despite his talent at Michigan State there were a lot of teams that weren’t sure where they’d play him in the NBA. They saw him as an undersized power forward without the requisite skills to play the three in the NBA. Positions, pro teams should have learned years ago, don’t matter when the talent is there, and Steve Kerr has figured out how to harness Green’s strengths to the point that he was both a Defensive Player of the Year and Most Improved Player candidate this past year. He’s also now a key cog to an NBA championship team.

So what consistencies or patterns are there among these draft selections? The first is that there are quite a few players who were involved in draft-day trades, which likely means they fell far enough down the board where some desirous team felt it was prudent to go after the player, making an offer strong enough to pluck them off the low branches when they dipped. Elfrid Payton and Nerlens Noel are the best recent examples of this, though Jusuf Nurkic and Gorgui Dieng were involved in such trades, too, though not as the centerpieces of their deals (Doug McDermott and Trey Burke, respectively).

Beyond that, the news isn’t great for front offices, because a lot of what makes these players such bargain bin buys is that they came into the draft with various red flags. Philly might have scored with Noel, letting him take a year off to nurse his torn ACL in exchange for him falling to them (okay, so New Orleans) at #6 in 2013, but then last year they tried the same formula with Joel Embiid and he already is starting to look like he’ll be injured his entire career. In 2012 Sullinger dropped because of knee issues, and while that’s worked out to a certain degree for Boston, Baylor’s Quincy Miller, once thought a top-five prospect, dropped for the same reason and hasn’t had the same NBA success.

Draymond Green slipped because he was too small to play his position, and the same was said about the tiny Isaiah Thomas a few years earlier, which is why he was lucky even to be the last player selected in 2011. Despite the successes of Green and Thomas, there have been a ton of 6’7” power forward and 5’11” point guards that have failed over the years. Sometimes, those undersized guys can work out. Often, they do not.

Nurkic and Antetokounmpo, though inexperienced and relatively unknown as ultra-young foreign prospects, look like they both will be awesome pros, but it might be a while before we know if Bruno Caboclo was as savvy a pick for Toronto general manager Masai Ujiri.

In other words, to find steals in the draft it looks like teams need to be willing to accept a certain measure of risk in making a value selection. A lot of times, these are the picks that fail. By that same measure, going “safe” can backfire, too, as low-ceiling/high-floor picks don’t always pan out, either.

The quick answer is that the draft isn’t easy, but the good news is that there are bargains to be had. It looks like the trick is knowing when to take the risk on one and trading up to assume that risk whenever possible. We’ll see who ends up taking those risks this year in just under a week.

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NBA Daily: The Stretch Run — The Lottery Version

Most of the next six weeks will be spent focusing on the race for the West’s No. 8 seed, but don’t lose track of the annual plummet to the bottom while attention is diverted elsewhere.

Douglas Farmer

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Despite every vague description of the 2020 draft class as weak, despite the NBA flattening the lottery odds a year ago, despite the competitive instincts genuinely within each roster throughout the league, tanking in the final months of the season is inevitable.

It will not be as pervasive as it may be leading into the already-hyped 2021 draft, and it certainly will not be as rampant as in The Process-headlined mid-2010s, but the idea of increasing lottery odds still holds logical merit. With the flattened odds, four subsets exist within the odds:

Nos. 9-14: Odds from 1 percent to 3 percent of landing the top pick.
Nos. 7-8: Odds of 6 percent.
Nos. 4-6: Odds from 9 percent to 12.5 percent.
Nos. 1-3: Odds of 14 percent.

In the run-up to May 19’s lottery, many will remind that both the New Orleans Pelicans and the Memphis Grizzlies lept from those 6-percent slots into the top-two spots in the draft a year ago — but the focus should still be at the absolute bottom of the standings, where the Golden State Warriors may already have locked up one of the 14-percent opportunities.

The Warriors’ 44 losses are five ahead of — or is it behind? — the Detroit Pistons’ 39, which would necessitate quite a winning boost to overcome, even with Stephen Curry returning sometime next month. The better question is, who will spiral to the other two 14-percent chances? Basketball Insiders may be devoting much of the week to the “Stretch Run” as it applies to the league’s leaders, but five other teams will be racing down to only two spots:

Cleveland Cavaliers: 14-40 currently, 2-8 in their last 10.
Atlanta Hawks: 16-41, 4-6 in their last 10.
Minnesota Timberwolves: 16-37, 1-9 in their last 10.
New York Knicks: 17-38, 5-5 in their last 10.
Detroit Pistons: 19-39, 2-8 in their last 10.

The trade deadline provided some clarity in these franchises’ grander plans, most specifically that the Pistons have little-to-no intent of competing in the near future. With Blake Griffin sidelined, Andre Drummond traded and Reggie Jackson bought out, Detroit’s starting lineup now features a pair of names that the more casual fan might struggle to spell — Sviatoslav Mykhailiuk and Sekou Doumbouya, for the record.

That three-game lead in the win column should not hold up for long. Consider their next six games: At Portland, at Denver, at Phoenix, at Sacramento, vs. Oklahoma City and vs. Utah. To be blunt, the Pistons will likely lose all six.

If anyone will match Detroit, it may be the Timberwolves, particularly with franchise cornerstone Karl-Anthony Towns out indefinitely with a wrist injury. Minnesota’s next six games may include plausibly-winnable games at Orlando and against the Dallas Mavericks, but the Timberwolves have already strung together losing streaks of 11 and 13 games this season. The trade deadline may have reinvented most of Minnesota’s roster, but Towns’ absence may spur another notable losing streak.

If any of these teams might separate itself with wins, it would be the Knicks. They started 4-18 under David Fizdale but have gone 13-20 since under interim head coach Mike Miller. That latter winning rate would have New York at 21 or 22 wins currently, if spread across the entire season to date. Continuing at that pace should distance the Knicks from the best lottery odds, albeit just to still plenty desirable chances.

If such a shift occurs in Cleveland under freshly-instated head coach J.B. Bickerstaff, then suddenly this lottery-driven stretch run may include only the Timberwolves and Pistons. The Hawks’ moves at the deadline — namely trading for Clint Capela and Dewayne Dedmon — suggest their time pursuing the most ping-pong balls has ended. Their results underscore the value of rising in the lottery no matter the draft; landing Trae Young may be best remembered, but the less-heralded drafting of De’Andre Hunter is increasingly paying off.

The 2020 version of notable tanking is more a selective stagger, one likely to apply to only a couple franchises — currently squabbling over a mere 1.5 percent in lottery odds. In any other avenue of life, that would hardly be enough to fret over, but when it may be the difference in landing Anthony Edwards, James Wiseman or LaMelo Ball, that 1.5 percent still means a great deal to these franchises.

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NBA Daily: The Stretch Run – Atlantic Division

Ben Nadeau praises the Toronto Raptors, Boston Celtics and Philadelphia 76ers, while also gently eulogizing another season gone wrong for both teams in New York.

Ben Nadeau

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The Stretch Run.

With 20-odd games remaining on the schedule, it’s officially make-or-break time for the majority of the league — unless your franchise rhymes with Los Shamjealous or Hillmockie, of course. With tantalizing lottery picks for those that bottom out or home-court postseason revenue for teams that push forward, the post-All-Star break jockeying is always fascinating.

As of Feb. 20, however, most of the Eastern Conference — and particularly so, the Atlantic Division — is cut and dried. From hyped-up expectations to the somewhat-disappointing, one of the conference’s perennially-strongest divisions is looking robust once again. Although all of them presumably lag behind the Giannis Antetokounmpo-led Bucks, the bloodbath for the right to face Milwaukee appears to be better than ever.

But before even getting into the Toronto Raptors, Boston Celtics, Philadelphia 76ers and Brooklyn Nets’ varying playoff hopes, a rapid-fire eulogy for the New York Knicks must first be had. Fans who once dreamt off trotting out Kevin Durant, Kyrie Irving and Zion Williamson — but ask the Nets and New Orleans Pelicans how life without them went, to be fair — had to settle for trading away Marcus Morris at the trade deadline earlier this month.

At 17-38, there are only a handful of franchises worse off in the standings department — Minnesota, Atlanta, Cleveland and Golden State — and absurdity continues to reign in Manhattan. David Fizdale was unceremoniously ousted in December and was replaced by interim head coach Mike Miller, who was then (accidentally) dissed by Steve Stoute on an ESPN morning show. Even Steve Mills was out as president after tapping Leon Rose, another superagent turned front office executive.

On the roster side, Frank Ntilikina is playing less than ever, the aforementioned Morris led the team in points per game (19.6) and Bobby Portis already shot down any idea of a buyout. Kevin Knox, 20, has seen his minutes and averages nearly halved, while Mitchell Robinson has only played more than 25 minutes on 18 occasions. The Knicks desperately have searched for continuity and clarity only to come up empty-handed time and time again.

Thankfully, RJ Barrett looks like the real deal and, according to Marc Berman of The New York Post, the Knicks have begun to look at the upcoming draft to nail down a scoring point guard as the next franchise cornerstone.

With some real, tangible turnover in New York — and some incredibly solid youngsters to boot — it’s far too early to anoint the franchise as revitalized, but they’ve taken some important first steps toward doing so.

And despite stealing away Durant and Irving during the offseason, their cross-river rivals in Brooklyn haven’t fared much better at all. Irving, when he’s played, has been sensational — unfortunately, he’s reached the floor in just 20 total games thus far and is now out indefinitely (again) after re-aggravating that troublesome right shoulder (again). The 27-year-old point guard missed the All-Star Game for the first time since 2015-16 and his season — plus whatever lingering postseason hopes the Nets had — are quickly setting. Durant, as planned, hasn’t logged a minute yet — and likely won’t — while Rodions Kurucs hasn’t matched last year’s breakout campaign and Joe Harris has seen a considerable drop from three-point range too.

At 25-28, Brooklyn owns the No. 7 seed in the Eastern Conference, some 2.5 games ahead of the Orlando Magic. It’s hard to imagine the Nets falling out of the postseason entirely — the ninth-seeded Washington Wizards are just 20-33 — but there’s little chance they catch the Indiana Pacers at No. 6, especially following the return of Victor Oladipo. If Irving is shelved for much longer and Durant sits out the entire year, the Nets’ best-case scenario becomes stealing a postseason game from Milwaukee or Toronto before bowing out in the first round.

After arguably winning the offseason, it’s a tough pill to swallow in Brooklyn — but, at the very least, there are undeniable better days ahead.

And then that leaves three: Toronto, Boston and Philadelphia.

Today, at 34-21, the 76ers are the most disappointing of the bunch as they often struggle to play to both Ben Simmons and Joel Embiid’s strengths at once. Simmons, 23, for all his other-worldly playmaking — and previous talk of a summertime-made jumper — has only attempted six three-pointers in 2019-20. The defense is as fearful as ever and rates at 106.1 — good for fourth-best, but sadly behind the Celtics, Raptors and Bucks — so counting the 76ers out of a deep playoff run would be downright shameful.

But in back-to-back-to-back contests before the All-Star break, the 76ers lost to the Celtics, Miami HEAT — the franchise occupying the No. 4 seed ahead of them — and Bucks. The deadline fits of both Glenn Robinson III and Alec Burks need some time, but Philadelphia is one of the few legitimate contenders in the conference that actually tried to improve their roster this month — which speaks to the still-strong internal hopes of the franchise.

Just as the Nets are nearly locked into the No. 7 or 8 seed, the 76ers won’t drop any lower than sixth place either. And although both Boston and Toronto have gained an inch of separation in the conference hierarchy, Philadelphia now finds themselves in the midst of a three-team brawl for home-court advantage in the first round. With Philadelphia’s unbelievable ceiling of potential and inherent inconsistency, it’s too early to predict where exactly they’ve fall come playoff time — but, make no mistake, this is a roster no opposing team will be excited to face.

On the other hand, Boston is peaking at just the right time as head coach Brad Stevens continues to push all the right buttons. Jayson Tatum, fresh off his first-ever All-Star berth, is a force to be reckoned with (22.4 points, 6.9 rebounds) and Kemba Walker has found himself right at home in the Garden. Surely the Celtics would love to avoid the Bucks for as long as possible and to do so, they’ll need to skip Toronto over the season’s final few months — however, even without Kawhi Leonard, that’s easier said than done.

The Celtics boast top-five ratings on both sides of the ball and, in spite of everybody’s doomsday-worthy proclamations, the 1-2 punch of Enes Kanter and Daniel Theis under the rim have more than sufficed. It’ll begin to sound like a repetitive cliche — and just wait for Toronto to fill out this trifecta — but Boston is still Boston: Hard-nosed and even harder-working, they’re an absolute shoo-in for home-court advantage in the first round at the very least.

But the Raptors currently stand as the Atlantic Division crown jewel, ready as ever to defend their conference throne.

You know the details by now: Leonard is dealt to Toronto and he wins the city their first-ever championship ring before signing with Los Angeles last July. Without last weekend’s All-Star MVP in tow, the Raptors were expected to sharply fall down the standings — playoffs, maybe, but this? Certainly not.

This is domination. This is an elite defensive unit. This is a franchise that not only lived on after their superstar left — but then thrived off that departure. Sans Leonard, the Raptors are only 40-15, good for the second-best record in the Eastern Conference. Crazier, right now, the Raptors are on pace to win as many regular-season games as they did with Leonard.

If not for the single-digit loss Bucks, they’d probably be the NBA’s darling story of the season once again. Pascal Siakam, 25, has blossomed into superstardom — 23.5 points, 7.5 rebounds — and is a more-than-worthy mark to pin the franchise’s back-to-back hopes upon. But perhaps even more impressive is Toronto’s ability to shuffle through next-man-up cards with reckless abandon. In fact, post-All-Star break, Terence Davis, an undrafted rookie, is the only player to have featured in all 55 games.

Every major member outside of OG Anunoby has missed a chunk of the season, too: Fred VanVleet, 10; Pascal Siakam, 11; Serge Ibaka, 11; Kyle Lowry, 12; Norman Powell, 17; Marc Gasol, 20.

And yet, they relentlessly compete like bonafide champions.

Toronto is likely destined for a second-round showdown with either Boston and Philadelphia — that much seems ultimately clear. But in the conference’s suddenly-thickening race to the top, for the first time in a long time, it’s still anybody’s best guess as to who will come out on top. Simply put, if you want star power — bank on Simmons, Embiid and the 76ers. If you want pedigreed basketball on both sides of the floor — there’s Walker, Tatum and the Celtics.

But if you want to back a franchise that was left for relative dead mere months after hoisting a championship trophy — well, Siakam, Lowry and the Raptors may just be the heavyweight title contender the conference has been waiting for.

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NBA Daily: Collin Sexton’s First All-Star Weekend A Success

Spencer Davies looks back at Cleveland Cavaliers guard Collin Sexton’s first-time experience at NBA All-Star weekend in Chicago.

Spencer Davies

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It was early Friday afternoon at the Wintrust Arena in Chicago, the stage was set to kick off a laid-back weekend of celebration on NBA All-Star Weekend and commend the hard work of the brightest young talents, both national and international, the league had to offer.

The events of the 72-hour spectacle are meant to be enjoyed, connecting with others and soaking in the experience as a reward rather than being a full-on competition. Added to the U.S. Team roster as a replacement for injured Miami HEAT rookie Tyler Herro, Cleveland Cavaliers guard Collin Sexton did just that. Between a multitude of media appearances in the bright lights with cameras all around, the 21-year-old upstart took advantage of the opportunities to expose his personality to a national audience.

But amidst the fun, Sexton still went the extra mile as he always does. Phil Handy, a former Cavaliers assistant who worked famously with Kyrie Irving and the man that conducted Sexton’s pre-draft workout with Cleveland, was the head coach of the U.S. Team. So the one they call Young Bull decided to take full advantage with a post-practice workout when the floor cleared.

“[He’s worked with] great guards, yeah. He’s a great guy,” Sexton told Basketball Insiders. “He just told me to continue to get better, continue to work, continue to strive to be great. He talked to me a little bit about Kobe [Bryant] and his time with him, so I just got a good takeaway from him.”

Additional work at a practice to improve his game and prepare for an exhibition contest during a time that was meant for fun? It’s par for the course in his world. Just weeks prior following the Cavaliers’ loss to the Oklahoma City Thunder on the road, a team source revealed to Basketball Insiders that Sexton went to Cleveland’s practice facility after landing in Northeast Ohio in the early morning hours to hone his craft.

“Dude’s motor doesn’t stop,” the source said.

“Oh naw, I work hard. When I feel like…if I’m on the court, I’mma do whatever I’ve gotta do. No days off, whatever,” Sexton told Basketball Insiders of his never-ending drive. “If it’s taking care of my body or just stretching or lifting, it’s not always about shooting and stuff like that. You’ve just gotta do the little things and that’s going to help you in the future.”

Though Sexton wasn’t used to the kind of attention he was receiving in the Windy City, he was determined to prove that he belongs. Usually taking a business-like approach to downplay things of this nature, he admitted how amazing it felt to achieve the milestone and be a part of the most popular three-day stretch the NBA has to offer.

“I feel like all my hard work, it paid off. So I’m glad to be here, especially with these group of guys, really good group. It’s an honor,” Sexton told Basketball Insiders that Friday morning.

Among star-studded sophomore names such as Luka Doncic and Trae Young, as well as human-highlight-reel rookies like Zion Williamson and Ja Morant, a motivated Sexton made his mark on the floor.

In 20 minutes of action, he poured in 21 points, nabbed five rebounds and dished out three assists. He shot 9-for-14 from the field, including three triples on six tries. And he even had a reverse jam on a bounce pass to himself, though he joked that it was “kinda weak.”

“At first, I was just chillin’ out there, wasn’t playing too hard. Then, you know, I can turn it on pretty quick,” Sexton said.

“Honestly, I just go out there and just play my game. Honestly, no matter who I’m put in the room with, I’mma do what I do,” Sexton told Basketball Insiders. “It’s exciting just because of like all the attention they bring, but me, being myself . . . I’m a dog too, so I’mma go out there and show everybody that I can represent as well.”

Sexton was the 20th Cavalier in franchise history to represent the team in the Rising Stars game since its inception in 1994. With a grin on his face naming those wine-and-golders who came before him, he was thinking ahead about the teammates that could now follow his lead.

Basketball Insiders saw a side of Sexton that hasn’t been seen much in Cleveland. He started a long media tour Thursday with a Yahoo-sponsored pop-a-shot contest followed it up with an NBA TV sitdown interview alongside Dennis Scott. While the next day was entirely centered on Rising Stars, he continued Saturday with an appearance for Metro By T-Mobile during a media-player role reversal contest and finished off at a Mountain Dew barbershop sit down with the legendary Scottie Pippen and other notorious players from the league.

Through all of the losing, through all of the tumultuous nature of his one-and-a-half seasons with the Cavaliers — who are hiring their fourth coach since the 2018 NBA Draft — Sexton is not going to change his approach. He’s not going to change who he is. He’s not going to veer into a different path because of another shift in direction.

“It’s a great experience for me just to take my bumps and bruises, to go out there and pretty much just play hard each and every night, and that’s what I’mma do,” Sexton told Basketball Insiders. “It’s tough losing because no one wants to lose. I feel like we’re moving in the right directions and we’ll get better and start winning.”

Whether people want to believe it or not, what he’s doing is working just fine.

All-Star Weekend proved it.

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