Cavs: NBA execs think Darius Garland’s ready to blow up in 2021-22

Last season, I was pleased with how Darius Garland played for the Cleveland Cavaliers, for the most part.

After a fairly underwhelming rookie year because of a variety of factors, Garland had a bounce-back campaign in Year 2, and he looked to be himself health-wise, as compared to his rookie year. Then, a prior meniscus injury was reportedly in the back of his mind.

As a result, Garland appeared to be a completely different player, and he had a robust 17.4 points and 6.1 assists per outing, and knocked in 39.5 percent of his three-point attempts. The shiftiness and passing vision from him were on display regularly, which was a key bright spot for Cleveland.

Looking at this upcoming 2021-22 season, while I would like to see Garland take further strides, and hopefully attempt more threes game-to-game, I do firmly believe he’ll again show that he’s a crucial player moving forward for the Cavaliers. Last season was a relief in that realm, and I’d imagine that the leadership of Ricky Rubio, from a backup 1 perspective, should make a difference for Garland, among others.

Additionally, it was noteworthy that in a poll from Hoops Hype involving 15 NBA executives, they had Garland as their top choice as a breakout player this next season, as h/t Sam Leweck of Cavaliers Nation. This was when they were asked to give their top three breakout candidates, and as Leweck pointed out, Garland got “24.0 percent of the maximum amount of possible points,” which was the most for that poll question.

Here was more background from the executives’ rationale regarding Garland, via Michael Scotto of Hoops Hype.

‘”In theory, you’re picking a younger player who hasn’t broken out yet because of some reason, whether it’s either injuries or team dynamics, and they still have to have untapped upside,” one executive told Hoops Hype. “Garland checks those boxes.”‘

It seems that these NBA execs think Garland’s ready to blow up for the Cavs in 2021-22.

It’s not even training camp for the Cavs/NBA teams yet, so one has to read into this with a grain of salt. Garland needs to stay healthy too, and the execs did seemingly stress that in the Scotto report, to get that out there.

In all seriousness, however, these comments should stick with Cavaliers fans.

While Garland does need to show continued progression as both a playmaker and a scorer, the latter of which from a mindset standpoint, must be the case to me, he’s such a talented young player, and a legitimate breakout season for him could very well play out.

Before he unfortunately missed most of the closing batch of games for the Cavs in May, Garland was also amid the best month of his young career in April before an ankle sprain at month end.

He had 20.5 points per contest then, and hit 38.5 percent of his then-6.4 deep attempts per contest, and it was clear that the full array was on display for him, and that sort of thing leads into me being bullish on him for next season, too. In that stretch, he dished out 7.3 assists per outing as well, to that point.

In any case, although we again need to see Garland show further progression as a young lead guard, and I’d like to see him be a bit more willing to seek out contact as a driver, I don’t think these comments from those 15 executives are off-base.

If Garland lets it fly a little more from deep, of which the Cavs are reportedly stressing for both him and Collin Sexton from here, that could help Darius blow up next season, combined with a steadier approach as a passer.

Granted, I do believe that Garland did have a quasi-breakout last season, but him taking another step could qualify as that more so. In a general sense, though, it does seem that those 15 NBA execs polled by Hoops Hype/Scotto are aboard the Garland hype train for next season.

And I have to say, I can’t blame them.