Cavs: Darius Garland should assert himself more in early clock

Darius Garland, Cleveland Cavaliers. (Photo by Daniel Dunn-USA TODAY Sports)
Darius Garland, Cleveland Cavaliers. (Photo by Daniel Dunn-USA TODAY Sports) /

Next season, I’d expect Cleveland Cavaliers lead guard Darius Garland to build off his second campaign.

In 2020-21, Garland looked like a different player, and as compared to his rookie season, in which he reportedly still had his prior meniscus injury from college in the back of his mind, Year 2 for him was quite the bounce-back year.

He had 17.4 points and 6.1 assists per outing, and knocked in 39.5 percent of his three-point attempts, which was a step up from his Year 1, in which he hit 35.5 percent from downtown.

Like I’d assume most, I do want Garland to take more triples game-to-game looking onward, objectively; he needs to take more than the 4.9 per outing he attempted last season.

It was nice to know that Cleveland is reportedly stressing to both him and Collin Sexton that they want them each to take eight threes per game moving forward though, but we’ll have to see if that can end up playing out on a consistent basis.

Granted, for Garland and Sexton realistically, it is still apparent that floaters for both at times in games can get them in-rhythm, and for guards, that is a shot they have to have here and there in their arsenal. Trae Young’s floater capabilities show that too, and that to me should be telling for Garland, as a counter.

Albeit regardless, for the young Cavaliers lead guard, while I know he needs to continue to get his teammates involved, and I know he will, I do believe him looking for some looks in early clock could pay off for him. In turn, that could aid him as a playmaker as well.

Cleveland Cavaliers: Garland should assert himself some more in early clock situations.

Last season, Garland I thought showed plenty of growth as a transition player, which was nice to see. Even while him placing in the 46th percentile in transition scoring, per Synergy Sports, was not necessarily a glowing endorsement of it, his approach was better as the season wore on, from my perspective.

That said, there were still instances I thought that in secondary transition/early clock situations, that Garland was passing up some opportunities to create for himself, whether that was on the perimeter or getting to in-rhythm floaters/push shots.

Garland’s three-point shooting clip was only 33.3 percent in “very early” clock scenarios, those being with 22-18 seconds left, and in early clock, that clip was better at 38.0 percent. But the frequency of those looks was just 5.3 and 6.3 percent.

With the shooter Garland is and the range/handle he has, I thought there were some chances in games when it was logical for him to look to assert himself more from deep before defenses were set, and heading into Year 3, perhaps we’ll see that some more from him.

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I’m not suggesting it’d be a bunch more of the time, and I’m not saying Garland should be just firing looks up there. However, in early clock scenarios, if he shows some more aggression as a shooter, it could open up more driving lanes for himself, and could lead to more open looks for others.

In those early clock situations, Garland also, for what it’s worth, and not just in true transition instances, did have a two-point hit rate of 53.1 percent. That was on a frequency of 12.4 percent though, which was somewhat notable.

Nonetheless, while we did see it seemingly more later in the season, such as in April, when Garland had the best month of his career, with 20.5 points and 7.3 assists per outing, I do need to see that assertiveness from here more consistently.

I’m not saying Garland should just be rushing things, but with the handle he has and the range he possesses, I do believe it could pay dividends and generate some more free throws for him and/or easier chances, particularly when cross matches are there.

When defenses aren’t as set though, it’s just sensible for Darius to hit the gas a bit more with him heading into Year 3.

And based on how he has the vision to generate great catch-and-shoot looks for his teammates, and with Jarrett Allen’s quickness, he could even get some quick hitter post-ups/dump offs here and there if Garland shows he’s willing to assert himself more in early clock situations.

Moreover, perhaps this sort of thing we’ll see play out next season for DG, even with that not meaning it’s a ton of the time, realistically.

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Albeit more willingness from Garland in that regard/in semi-transition I do think would pay off more as he gains more experience/his chemistry with others, such as Isaac Okoro, continues to build.