Darius Garland has solidified himself as Cavs primary playmaker of future

Darius Garland, Cleveland Cavaliers. Photo by Jacob Kupferman/Getty Images
Darius Garland, Cleveland Cavaliers. Photo by Jacob Kupferman/Getty Images /

It’s been a few years since the Cleveland Cavaliers had a franchise point guard going back to the Kyrie Irving era, with a few decent to average ones after him. And then there was drafting Young Bull, Collin Sexton, who turned out to be more of a scorer than a facilitator even though he still puts on a show.

But from there, we did end up striking gold in last year’s draft with Darius Garland out of Vanderbilt. It seems that Garland wasn’t the playmaker he is now when he was in college, albeit the upside/vision was there in flashes.

Nonetheless, he appeared to be much more score-first, and although his season then was cut to just five games due to a meniscus injury, in his games active, he averaged 16 points per game while dishing out less than 3 assists a game in that burn.

In his rookie season he was at one time considered one of the worst players in the league, but that was likely in large part because Garland did still reportedly have his prior meniscus injury from college in the back of his mind. He looked timid often as a result, and we didn’t nearly see the capabilities then that we’ve seen this season, when Garland has looked like a completely different player and Cleveland’s primary playmaker of the future.

With what Garland’s shown this year, he’s clearly the primary playmaker of the future for the Cavs.

Darius went from averaging 12.3 points per game to go with 3.9 assists to an astounding 17.7 points and 6.2 assists per game. He’s definitely taken a big leap in becoming the leader that Cavs fans have been waiting to see since LeBron James’ and Kyrie’s departure (that was via trade, though).

And even while he does not jump off the screen defensively, Garland’s team defensive instincts/feel have improved this year and he has made some strides; 1.2 steals per outing has been a plus to an extent, too.

Generally, his poise and maturity have come a long way and you can very well see it in his play, as teammates rally around him and they support him. The kind of energy and urgency he brings to the game along with his offense should give Cavalier fans something to look forward to as his game continues to improve.

One thing that should give Cleveland fans hope is that considering things have gone as planned and the Cavs plan to move forward with Sexton and Garland, we could have a very dangerous duo quite similar to those 2 guards out in Portland, the squad that beat the Cavs on Wednesday. KJG’s own John Suchan has high hopes for the young Cavaliers backcourt, too, for what it’s worth.

Now comparing Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum with Darius and Collin may not be that far off looking long-term, with their on-ball creation abilities. The Cavaliers backcourt is not that of Lillard and McCollum yet, obviously, but the handle, range and playmaking Garland’s shown has led to him seemingly having a very high ceiling. We know Sexton can do as a scorer, also.

It’s clear that moving forward, Sexton and Garland are the key components to the Cavs’ core and we’ve come a long way since we had Kyrie at the helm but these two guards fit just as well.

The next step in Garland’s growth should be to continue improving defensively as well as continuing to run the offense as well as he does now, though. We know he can shoot and pass and he’s only going to get better with more experience and as he matures further in his career.

He resembles Lillard a lot to me and I think that’s a great long-term comparison for him as he is becoming a leader and the playmaker that the Cavs have been longing for as they miss the playoffs for the third straight season.

Hopefully there will be a healthy group ready to go next season and you better believe Darius is looking to take another leap in his game which is what the team is going to need if they want to get out of the rebuilding process and attempt to make a run at the playoffs.

That’s of course factoring in Garland himself, too, though; he has missed the last few games due to an ankle sprain and missing some time earlier on, in particular, this season because of a shoulder sprain.

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In any case, from what we’ve seen this season, Garland quieted his critics and let his game do the talking in a big bounce-back Year 2. And it’s apparent that he has the potential to be a top point guard in this league and I’m sure he will continue to silence his doubters and show everyone that he can lead the Cavaliers as one of the faces of the squad.