LeBron James reportedly likes Collin Sexton. The Cleveland Cavaliers definitely like LeBron James.
It’s not hard to figure out a big reason why the Cavaliers took Sexton with the No. 8 overall pick at the NBA draft, nor is it hard to imagine the Cavs are likely hoping the move works out a little better for them than it did for James’ old team.
ESPN Cleveland reporter Jordan Zirm reported last Friday that James’ people “like” Sexton. That drew some attention considering Sexton was likely to be there for Cleveland at No. 8 and could serve as a barometer for the lengths the team is willing to go to convince James to stay with his hometown team. On Thursday, Cleveland made the selection a reality.
Cavaliers select Alabama’s Collin Sexton with No. 8 pick
The Cavaliers selected the point guard with the pick they received in the Kyrie Irving deal and, with the selection, likely did their best to appeal to James as he surveys the NBA’s free agent landscape.
Collin Sexton is coming to help out LeBron … maybe. He's at least heading to Cleveland! pic.twitter.com/FIv310IsaB
— Yahoo Sports (@YahooSports) June 22, 2018
Sexton is widely seen as one of the draft’s top point guards, along with No. 5 pick Trae Young of Oklahoma. While Young stands out thanks to his elite shooting ability, Sexton is much more of an athletic slasher who can hold his own on the defensive end.
When drafted, Sexton himself seemed quite aware of James’ preferences, to the point of actually shouting out the King on ESPN’s broadcast and lobbying for him to stay in Cleveland.
“LeBron, let’s do it. I see you only needed a few extra pieces. Let’s go back to the Finals. Let’s do it.” — Collin Sexton when asked about potentially playing with LeBron James
I love that confidence from the Young Bull
— Marq Burnett (@Marq_Burnett) June 22, 2018
So, a team used draft capital to take a LeBron James-approved point guard to hopefully convince him to stay and chase another title after losing in the Finals. This all sounds so familiar.
Shabazz Napier and the Miami Heat
Rewind back to 2014, when LeBron James was headed to free agency after four years with the Heat. One of Miami’s biggest problems during James’ tenure was point guard play, as Mario Chalmers and Norris Cole weren’t getting it done. James repeatedly and not-so-subtly tweeted his love for Napier, which eventually led to the Heat trading up two picks for the UConn point guard. James seemed pleased.
However, James was apparently not pleased enough. A few weeks later, he announced he was returning home to Cleveland, and the rest is history. James has since reached the Finals four straight times, while Napier was later traded to the Orlando Magic for a conditional second-rounder.
Collin Sexton and the Cleveland Cavaliers
Could that history repeat? Possibly, as we still have no idea where James is headed in free agency. Cleveland remains a possibility, but so do at least a half-dozen other teams.
If James does indeed decide to leave, you have to feel for Sexton, who would possibly be seen as a piece of bait rather than a legit building block. What separates Sexton from Napier is that the Alabama point guard is widely seen as a strong NBA prospect, while Napier was a bit more borderline as a college star who was limited athletically. Sexton should be a significant asset for the Cavaliers, no matter who his teammates are.
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