Making the case for Darius Garland as the Cavs’ best player

Cleveland Cavaliers guard Darius Garland handles the ball. (Photo by Daniel Dunn-USA TODAY Sports)
Cleveland Cavaliers guard Darius Garland handles the ball. (Photo by Daniel Dunn-USA TODAY Sports) /
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Darius Garland, Cleveland Cavaliers
Cleveland Cavaliers guard Darius Garland shoots the ball. (Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images) /

#2: Garland’s development as a scorer for the Cavs

Yes, Sexton is the focal point of this offense in terms of point production with a per game average of 23.9, but Garland is more than capable of taking over games when necessary.

Be it a subtle (though a then-tieing of a career-best) 25 points in a Feb. 27 overtime victory over the Philadelphia 76ers, a game that Garland was largely overshadowed by Sexton’s own 28-point outing, or a now-career-high 37-point and seven-assist eruption against the San Antonio Spurs in Cleveland’s last game, Garland has proven that he can be entrusted with option number one status.

That wasn’t always the case. In fact Garland looks like a completely different player than when he first arrived on the scene. He didn’t exude confidence, rarely looked to find his own shot, seemed a bit tentative to drive to the basket, and his shot seemed a little flat at times in year one.

Was there a reason behind all of this? Perhaps. Let us remind ourselves that this young man only logged five games at the college level, and he was reportedly not fully himself because of his prior meniscus injury having been in the back of his mind.

Plus, he didn’t even get to play a full slate of games before the regular season was ended due to the COVID-19 pandemic. That may not be an excuse but it does provide a bit of context in regards to why his development was halted, coupled with him seeming to be somewhat hesitant regarding the prior knee injury.

This season, DG has managed to improve his points per game by 4.4 points (12.3 to 16.7) and his assists per game by 2.0 (3.9 to 5.9). His effective field goal percentage is up to 50.9 percent from 47.6 percent last year. Garland is now shooting 40.0 percent from three-point range compared to 35.5 percent his rookie year. He’s now attempting 14.5 field goal attempts a game.

Nearly every offensive statistical category across the board has been improved upon.

And post-All-Star break, he’s averaging 18.1 Points, 5.8 Assists and is above 43 percent from beyond the arc. Simply put, Garland is having a breakout. There is no other way to put it.

Lastly, we’ll hit on the third reason Garland is the Cavs’ best current player.