Cavs: Best-case scenario for Darius Garland for next season

Cleveland Cavaliers guard Darius Garland handles the ball. (Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)
Cleveland Cavaliers guard Darius Garland handles the ball. (Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images) /

Darius Garland is more than capable of bouncing back for the Cleveland Cavaliers.

Darius Garland was the fifth overall pick in the 2019 draft. The Cleveland Cavaliers had just taken another point guard the previous draft with Collin Sexton, so the pick did not make the most sense, albeit Sexton is more of a 2.

Either way, it seemed there were possible two reasons for it. They either do truly believe he and Sexton could pair together long term similar to the Portland Trail Blazers’ situation, or they took someone who they believed was the best player there and it was seemingly a combination of both.

Anyhow, heading into the past draft, Garland had all the tools you like in a point guard in today’s league. He has a tight handle and the capability to be creative all over the court. The one hiccup was the knee injury he suffered that cut his only season at Vanderbilt to five games.

The Cavs have been in a similar situation before when they selected Kyrie Irving with the first pick in the 2011 NBA Draft. Irving had also only been able to take part in 11 games in his only season at Duke due to injury.

Garland did not get the full offseason most rookies get, and he was not ready for Summer League and also suffered another setback injury in training camp with a foot ailment.

Fast forward to today, Darius played and started in 59 games, averaging 12.3 points and 3.9 assists per game. He shot 40.1 percent from the field and 35.5 percent from three-point range, and even with a rough offseason that left him unprepared, he only missed six games that season.

While these numbers aren’t bad by any means, and there were plenty of nights that showed just how high his ceiling seems to be, these just weren’t the numbers that many expected to see out of the talented guard.

So heading into this next season, what would be the best-case scenario for him for the Cavs?

Garland turning into one of the Cavs’ clear top options game-in and game-out and improving his shooting and playmaking splits.

To drive it home, Darius turning into one of the team’s top scoring options with averages of 18.0 points and 4.5 assists per game, with an increased three-point percentage from last season could be it.

Darius could have all the tools to be a premier scorer and one of the top point guards in the East down the road based on his potential, but getting there would take time. Leaping to the scenario stated above though seems to be the best case for him and is a logical jump.

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The first real challenge he would have to overcome is definitively proving him and Sexton can work together, or that he is the better long-term option. Garland may be better suited at point guard and being the primarily ball handler.

But for now, the team is going to let this pairing with Sexton play out, at least for some more time together.

By proving he’s the better long term option or proving he can play some stretches off-ball buys him a role with the team that can potentially see him take over the offense for good going forward.

There are two tools Garland would use to take over this offense, in regards to clearly both the shooting and passing element.

His ability to handle the ball and create space will come regardless, but these handles have shown and could continue to show that he has an underrated ability to create plays. At this point, Collin Sexton’s biggest potential flaw seems to be his inability to create for others enough.

Garland proved in his rookie season that he has that ability, as per-36 minutes, he averaged 4.5 assists versus Sexton’s 3.2 per-36, which was a decrease from his rookie season.

Garland never seemed to find a consistent rhythm last year shooting, which is odd because he has shown his special ability to create space and release with smooth form.

Last year he only shot 35.5 percent from deep, which was much lower than his freshman year at Vanderbilt at 47.8 percent.

Granted, the sample size was obviously small in that sense, but Garland is a very talented perimeter shooter that could improve upon his rookie season’s hit rate. He did hit 39.2 percent of his catch-and-shoot three-point attempts also, which was a positive.

But once he translates his game and realizes his potential shooting the ball, and especially off-the-bounce, he could easily become a reliable scorer on offense. He has the handle and creativity to score that many fans love.

This extended offseason for teams who missed getting into the Orlando bubble has had plenty of negatives to it, but one positive from it was the extra time Garland, among others such as Sexton and Kevin Porter Jr., had to get fully ready to roll.

That should allow Garland to come into next season fully healthy, in great shape and it seems he should be even more so, based on how he looked good in Cleveland’s voluntary in-market bubble team workouts, as KJG’s Grant Puskar previously expressed.

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If he can put it all together, this kid has the potential to be a household name and fan favorite.