CLEVELAND, Ohio – Since Cavaliers guard Collin Sexton entered the league last season, his midrange jumper has always been one of his best skills.
Sexton’s dribble has a rhythm when he wants to get to the midrange jumper. When he reads defenders, he’ll pull up when it seems as though he’ll drive, pass or continue to dribble.
Sexton flashed his midrange pull-up Wednesday as he scored a game-high 28 points to lead the Cavs to a 108-94 win against the Philadelphia 76ers.
As a budding second-year guard, Sexton has studied some of the NBA’s top midrange shooters to help refine his jumper.
“Chris Paul and (Russell) Westbrook,” Sexton said. “That midrange is automatic when they get there. Lot of teams, they try to run them off. They still get to their spot, and they pop up and knock it down. So I watch a lot of film on them.”
This season Sexton is shooting 40.7% on 2.4 midrange shots a game, according to NBA.com stats. Sexton ranks second in field goal percentage for second-year players who average at least two midrange shots, right behind Oklahoma City Thunder guard Shai Gilgeous-Alexander (44.8%).
Paul, Gilgeous-Alexander’s backcourt mate, is shooting 54.3% on midrange shots and averaging 3.9 attempts. Westbrook is shooting 41.7% on 5.3 attempts.
Two of Sexton’s biggest shots Wednesday came in the midrange. With the Cavs up 83-77 in the fourth, the Sixers were cutting into the deficit. With 9:28 left, Sexton connected on a step-back jumper against Shake Milton. Sexton then made another jumper less than a minute later to make it 89-80.
“These last few games, somebody else somewhere has stepped up and tonight was Collin’s night,” said head coach J.B. Bickerstaff. “They went on a run and he made two shots to put their run to a stop. That’s what he’s capable of. Collin is a rare guy where he can roll out of bed and get you 20 and that’s not common in the NBA.”
One of the game’s top highlights came from Sexton executing his midrange shot to perfection. During the first quarter, Sexton used his burst to create an opening just below the elbow. Once he got there, he pulled his dribble back, and Sixers guard Josh Richardson fell to the floor.
With the mix of his handle and jumper coupled with a slowly emerging ability to facilitate, Sexton controlled the fourth quarter. The threat of his offense provided teammates with opportunities, as both of Sexton’s two assists came in the fourth.
As Darius Garland received a pass from Tristan Thompson, he swung it to Sexton at the top of the arc. Sexton surveyed the defense and saw his best option was to hit Love for a 3-pointer which produced a 98-86 edge with 3:15 left.
On the other assist, Sexton slashed to the rim and found Larry Nance Jr. open along the baseline for a layup that made it 103-88 and ended any suspense about the final result.
“I just started reading, and if I didn’t have the shot, I was just setting up a teammate for maybe a hockey assist, and it’s a few times that I did that. So it was cool,” Sexton said.
The Cavs will play the New Orleans Pelicans at Smoothie King Center on Friday, with tip off set for 8 p.m. EST.