Cavs are playing it smart with Darius Garland of late

Cleveland Cavaliers guard Darius Garland looks to make a play. (Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images)
Cleveland Cavaliers guard Darius Garland looks to make a play. (Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images) /

Darius Garland has had a heck of a bounce-back in Year 2 for the Cleveland Cavaliers. On the season, he’s had 17.7 points and 6.2 assists per outing, and has hit 39.4 percent of his three-point attempts.

He’s frankly looked like a different player. After Garland was reportedly still affected mentally by his prior meniscus injury that cut his lone collegiate season at Vanderbilt short, and had a fairly underwhelming rookie campaign, he’s been fully himself this season.

Garland also had the best month of his young career in April, and although Cleveland being so banged up played into it a bit, he did have 20.5 points and 7.3 assists per outing in that span of 15 games. He knocked in 38.5 percent of his 6.4 three-point attempts per game in that batch of contests, too, and his on and off-ball scoring abilities were on display.

The shake, handle and change-of-pace, to go with craftiness and vision Garland’s shown throughout the year have turned heads, and to me, he could be an All-Star-type player down the road. We’ll see on that, but as KJG’s Joey Cornell detailed, Garland has solidified himself as Cleveland’s primary playmaker of the future.

With Garland, though, there have been a few nagging ailments he has had to deal with this season. Earlier on, he was sidelined for a stretch because of a right shoulder sprain, for instance, and of late, Garland has missed the past four games due to a left ankle sprain. He’ll be out on Sunday against the Dallas Mavericks, too.

But he’s been far from the only notable absence for the Cavs as the season has been winding down, and Kevin Love has missed the last two outings (knee soreness), for what it’s worth.

That said, with Cleveland clearly reeling here anyhow and Garland having this recent ailment, the Cavaliers are having the right approach.

The Cavs are playing it smart with Garland of late.

Putting it simply, while Garland is not 100 percent clearly, and with the Cavs not a club that’s having a shot at the play-in now/them eliminated, whether or not he could potentially be set to go, having him sidelined is the right call.

Additionally, although he’s not nearly the passer of Garland/Dellavedova and that’s evident, it has given Collin Sexton some more primary playmaking reps in recent games. That’s in non-Garland minutes, for further context obviously in this case.

Plus, Cedi Osman serving as a key playmaker, and even primary playmaker essentially, even while there’s shooting ups and downs for him, has been meaningful.

Maybe that sort of role, albeit in a bench role, to point that out, normally, could be more of the ideal role for Osman looking onward, too? He’s had a career-best 4.1 assists per-36 minutes this season, to go with a career-high in assist rate at 20.8 percent?

Granted, I would still like to see DG out there for the Wine and Gold in perhaps a few more games this season, to give him some more momentum going into the offseason. And I would still expect that to be the case for him/particularly with Matthew Dellavedova (neck strain) reportedly set to miss the rest of the campaign.

Either way, though, the Cavs ensuring Garland is recovering completely/fully regarding the ankle, or at least seemingly, is the smart move.

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It hasn’t hurt Cleveland’s lottery odds, either, as an aside. And this again has led to some more meaningful playmaking reps for Sexton, Osman and/or enabled the Cavs to have some more evaluation of recent two-way signing Jeremiah Martin, too.