What does Darius Garland have to improve on for the Cavs?

Darius Garland, Cleveland Cavaliers. (Photo by Dan Hamilton-USA TODAY Sports)
Darius Garland, Cleveland Cavaliers. (Photo by Dan Hamilton-USA TODAY Sports) /

The Cleveland Cavaliers are in a great place. Looked at around the league as one of the best young teams, Cleveland is poised to take another leap next season. The front office has done an amazing job at bringing in the right pieces but it’s the Big 3 that has pushed this team into postseason contention.

Darius Garland, Evan Mobley, and Jarrett Allen are the engine that runs this team but it’s Garland who is the prime contributor to their offensive success. Once said to be the “worst player in the league” following his rookie season, Garland took a massive leap this past season, blossoming into an All-Star and being a finalist for the Most Improved Player award.

On the year, Garland averaged 21.7 points and 8.6 assists on 46.2/38.3/89.2 shooting splits. His averages ballooned up to 24.8 points and 10 assists per game on 43.5/39.6/87.6 shooting splits post All-Star break.

What’s most impressive about Garland’s third-year leap is that he did so without a steady secondary ball-handler. The Cavaliers lost Collin Sexton for the season just 11 games into the year. Ricky Rubio tore his ACL in late December and Caris LeVert was acquired via trade at the deadline, dealing with injury issues as well.

Still, Garland lifted the offensive play of those around him and took the Cavaliers to just one play-in win away from their first playoff berth in the post-LeBron James era.

He was rewarded with a 5-year, maximum rookie scale extension and looks to be the team’s franchise point guard for many, many years to come.

The focus has shifted in Cleveland. Now, it’s about winning games and making a strong run in the playoffs and one of the key components to that is the leap that Garland makes once again.

But, what is it that he should improve on for the Cavs?

The second half of the season showed that Garland can turn his scoring up when needed and as unfortunate as Sexton’s injury was, it helped Garland blossom into that All-Star player.

Garland hasn’t reached the Stephen Curry’s or Kyrie Irving’s of the world and to do so, the scoring will obviously need to rise. He can do so by not only taking more shots, but getting to the free throw line more.

Garland attempted just 3.5 free throw attempts per game as a lead guard. This ranked 59th-best in the league, behind guys like Bojan Bogdanovic and Josh Hart, guys who don’t handle the rock nearly as much as Garland.

Some of it can be attributed to swallowed whistles but another issue is just Garland’s hesitancy to take on contact. As hated as it is, Garland has to become more of a “foul-baiter” as it puts defenders and teams in bad predicaments in games. The jump doesn’t have to be a Trae Young or James Harden-level one but a steady increase will do wonders for his scoring.

Also, Garland can look to tone down on the turnovers. When you have the ball in your hands as much as he does, you’ll be prone to losing the ball a lot but sometimes, he can make some silly passes, over-dribble and lose control, and lose the ball on drives to the rim.

Cleaning up this area will help him take another leap in his playmaking ability.

Outside of those, it’s not really too much to ask Garland to improve on. The scoring will get better, the shooting is already there, he’s already extremely shifty and has an insane basketball IQ.

Next. Garland should have more help in late-clock situations. dark

Darius Garland and the Cavaliers have shown the rest of the NBA that they are here to compete, and it’s now up to them to continue to pressure teams and earn even more respect around the league.