Higher FTR would be nice, but 3s uptick for Cavs’ Garland should continue

Darius Garland, Cleveland Cavaliers. Photo by Jason Miller/NBAE via Getty Images
Darius Garland, Cleveland Cavaliers. Photo by Jason Miller/NBAE via Getty Images /

In this upcoming season for Cleveland Cavaliers emerging star lead guard Darius Garland, I’d look for him to keep rounding out his game.

Garland is coming off a breakout season in which he had 21.7 points and 8.6 assists per game, and he was one of the key reasons for Cleveland’s resurgence, as KJG’s Justin Brownlow detailed. Garland and Jarrett Allen made their All-Star debuts, and looking onward, Garland should be the offensive engine for the Cavaliers.

This coming season, we’ll get to see Garland in tandem with recent trade acquisition Donovan Mitchell, forming quite the dynamic backcourt duo. With the arrival of Mitchell, Garland should hopefully have more off-ball opportunities also, and he should stand to benefit throughout games.

With that in mind, and his close to last season, I’d expect to see Garland’s three-point shooting volume see some of an uptick. He had a higher volume of triples last season as compared to his first two years, which was good to see and paid dividends.

It would be nice if Garland could have a higher free throw rate, though, which is a scoring area he could still improve upon; 3.5 free throw attempts per outing is still fairly low for a player of his caliber.

He did show growth there, particularly by the closing stretch of last year, but whether or not there’s further strides made there for his shot profile, more of an uptick of threes could seemingly continue in 2022-23.

It would be encouraging to see Garland’s free throw rate increase, sure; either way, a meaningful consolation would be an uptick of threes continuing, especially after the Mitchell trade.

Injuries to guys such as Collin Sexton and Ricky Rubio had some to do with it, realistically, and Cleveland had notable injuries seemingly throughout last season, such as Allen in most of post-All-Star break play. Garland himself was dealing with a back injury for what appeared to be much of the season’s second half, too, as an aside.

Regardless, he had 6.7 three-point attempts per outing last year, of which he converted on 38.3 percent of his overall deep attempts. That was up from the previous season, in which Garland had 4.9 per outing; as a rookie, that number was 5.0.

The splits in the closing stretch of the season did admittedly skew the splits for Garland somewhat, but last season, he was definitely taking more deep balls, and looked to have less hesitation to hoist off-the-bounce.

On the season, he hit 40.5 percent of his pull-up three attempts, which were 3.8 per game overall, which constituted 22.1 percent of his shot attempts; those stats are per NBA.com’s shot tracking data. Now, as the season progressed, he was pulling on more of those plays, and going forward, one should still expect to see off-the-bounce deep looks make up a healthy portion of Garland’s shot profile.

Granted, coupled with that sort of thing, it would be nice to see for him to have a consistent rhythm, for Garland to have a steadier dose of free throw attempts in games. As KJG’s Amadou Sow emphasized, that’s an area where he can improve looking onward.

On the plus side, Garland did average 6.1 free throw attempts post-All-Star last season, and hit 87.6 percent from the stripe then. Rest assured, when he’s there, he’s typically going to knock those down.

That said, with Donovan Mitchell, Evan Mobley, Jarrett Allen and Caris LeVert, feasibly, in the fold, Garland having quite near that post-All-Star free throw volume might not be what we should anticipate, generally. Garland is a guy that’s going to drive to pass to others often, too, and should so more growth there this coming season and in years to come.

But, with Mitchell, to some extent, Raul Neto a bit, Ricky Rubio when he’s back, and Mobley being a gifted passing big, I’d imagine we should see more off-ball opportunities this coming season for Garland, and despite not cashing in post-All-Star last season in those looks, I don’t buy that being a concern. The quality of those looks with how the Cavaliers were injury-riddled likely didn’t help, either.

Moreover, while it’d be nice for Garland’s free throw rate, which was 20.5 percent last season, to increase, either way, a continual uptick of threes for the Cavs star would suffice.

Even if his overall shots decrease a bit, I could foresee some more of those being deep balls game-to-game, and more off-ball chances with others playmaking for stretches, seemingly, could help in that area. The Cavs should be wanting Garland to have some of an increase on his three-point attempt rate of 38.7 percent from last season in Year 4.

Next. 3 lineups for Cavs to juice the offense in 2022-23 season. dark

And if that does play out, Garland’s shooting reputation should only help open others up more for quality looks as games wear on.