Cavs: Darius Garland’s playmaking has been a bright spot

Cleveland Cavaliers guard Darius Garland looks to make a play. (Photo by Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports)
Cleveland Cavaliers guard Darius Garland looks to make a play. (Photo by Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports) /

The Cleveland Cavaliers, as we know, have not been getting it done for a while here. Cleveland’s schedule during this month has been brutal, which has played into that, and injuries have some as well.

Kevin Love having been sidelined (high-grade right calf strain/aggravation of that) since Dec. 27, from an overall offensive standpoint, has not helped, for one. And Larry Nance Jr. set to miss seemingly the most of March because of a fractured left hand won’t aid the Wine and Gold, particularly from a defensive and playmaking standpoint.

Nance, who has been second in the league in steals per game and was doing a really nice job in an interim starting 4 role for Love before his right wrist sprain, in particular, is a huge piece not in the picture for a while yet, too. We know that.

And Andre Drummond, although he did produce in regards to the traditional interior scoring and rebounding sense, was not exactly helping offensive flow with his inefficient post-ups far too often, and even drives. He’s no longer going to be playing for Cleveland, though, as the club can hopefully find a trade destination for him, and in relation to reported/potential/suggested suitors for him, you can more on that here and also here.

Anyhow, generally, far too often in Cleveland’s rut they find themselves in this month, while the schedule hasn’t aided them, the Cavs’ offensive flow has just not been there nearly enough.

Plus, Cleveland’s guards in Collin Sexton and Darius Garland, though they’ve been solid, have passed up three-point attempts at times, and although they’ve hit their attempts at a pretty high clip, again have passed up some in key spots, which haven’t helped. And others on the Cavs haven’t been taken even open triple looks when they’ve seemingly had the opportunities.

All of that being said, Garland, while he has again passed up triples, particularly via the pull-up variety, from my perspective, too much, in favor of floaters a bunch, which can hurt Cleveland somewhat, his playmaking feel has been a key positive.

DG’s playmaking has been a bright spot for the Cavs.

On the season, Garland’s carried forward how he closed out last season in the 2020 portion of the schedule, and has had a bit better assist splits, with 5.3 helpers per contest thus far in Year 2. He’s had an assist rate, on the year so far, of 26.4 percent, though, and a lower turnover rate, this go-round being 11.0 percent overall.

Now, again, the Wine and Gold haven’t exactly been a high octane attack, and are last in three-point makes per contest and hit rate.

But to me, Garland’s feel as a passer, such as in hitting lobs to Jarrett Allen, and his timing with those has shown growth. And his change of pace has proven to have an impact in that regard with him seemingly fully trusting his knee, which was not the case last season reportedly.

That’s been encouraging, though, and while I understand Garland himself needs to be more in-tune with helping hit some skip feeds, he has still shown in plenty of instances he has the requisite feel to hit those.

Guys like Isaac Okoro, Cedi Osman of late and Dylan Windler, admittedly, whose hit 31.0 percent of his three-point attempts, albeit has been a very good finisher, haven’t helped this month in taking advantage of their share of looks delivered from Garland, either.

Windler has often been sidelined, though, even while he was back in Friday’s loss to the Denver Nuggets and Taurean Prince, who has been one of Cleveland’s more productive shooters, missed the past two outings (left ankle), for recent context.

Perhaps Love being back, which could seemingly be on Sunday, based on recent updates from Cavs head coach J.B. Bickerstaff and via’s Chris Fedor, could aid Garland/the Cavs spacing/playmaking efforts, too.

And maybe some off-ball screening/more instances of relocation could aid Garland’s playmaking efforts/Cleveland’s perimeter shooting efforts? One can hope, although on a positive note for the squad overall from Friday was them having 30 assists.

In any case, although I’m not saying there hasn’t been some growing pains, Garland’s playmaking growth, and improved feel, has been a bright spot for the Cleveland Cavaliers.

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Hopefully that can be a trend that continues, and ideally, Cleveland can free him up even via some more relocation when Love is back.