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If the season were to begin today, George Hill would be the Cavaliers’ starting point guard over Collin Sexton, and that is expected to remain the case when things tip off for real next week.
That’s not to say Hill has looked like a Russell Westbrook clone in the preseason. Nor is it meant to indicate that there’s something wrong with Sexton.
This is merely the story of a veteran who has played in some big playoff games, including the Finals, and a rookie who is still finding his way in the pro game. So Cavs camp has been less about a battle of the ballhandlers and more about Sexton soaking up all he can from Hill.
Cavs coach Tyronn Lue trusts Hill and likes what he’s seen from Sexton.
“I think Collin has done a great job,” Lue said. “I want him to understand the game, understand how to run the offense, understand how to pick and choose his spots. G-Hill is a great veteran to learn from. Just watching him and talking to him every day is good for (Sexton).”
There are times Sexton has looked better than Hill in training camp and in exhibition games.
“He’s done a good job of controlling the team and controlling the game,” Lue said of Sexton. “He’s only going to get better.”
Hill is a steadying hand, someone who knows his Cavs teammates, where and when they like the ball.
Sexton is more like a ball of basketball fire. As All-Star forward Kevin Love smiled and said of Sexton, “He only knows one speed.”
That speed typically entails putting the pedal to the metal, and occasionally, ignoring the brakes. Lue wants the Cavs to play fast, so he has no issue with Sexton always being on the go.
But Sexton is learning to slow down a little, to let the game come to him and play at an NBA pace.
“When I was first out there, I’d be a little jittery, just because it’s the first time I ever experienced this,” Sexton said. “I’ve calmed down a little bit.”
Hill is a natural point guard, looking to set up others more than looking for his own shot. Sexton is more of a natural scorer, and Lue said he likes how Sexton is always “aggressive, getting to the basket, getting to the free-throw line.”
But Sexton still needs to work on driving and then kicking the ball out, and finding open veterans such as Kyle Korver and J.R. Smith on the perimeter.
“Those guys are specialists,” Lue said. “They knock down shots.”
Meanwhile, Sexton is more likely to drive, stop and pull up for a floater. That’s his strength when it comes to scoring.
“I feel when I get in that mid-range, I gotta make the shots, because it will open up everything else,” Sexton said. “I just have to make sure I make those shots and do my job.”
Bottom line? For now, the job belongs to Hill, and that’s clearly no knock on Sexton.
“He’s probably ready,” Lue said of the rookie. “But we want to ease him into it and make sure he’s comfortable. He’s going to have his chance.”