Why Garland will end up as the best Cavs guard of all time

Darius Garland, Cleveland Cavaliers. Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images
Darius Garland, Cleveland Cavaliers. Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images /
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Darius Garland, Cleveland Cavaliers. (Photo by Ken Blaze-USA TODAY Sports) /

Garland’s play thus far for the Cavs

It sounds strange to say that Garland has taken his game to another level when you can say he had his leap year last year and put it all together, making his first All-Star game. Last year Garland Garland averaged 21.7 points, 8.6 assists and 2.3 rebounds per game while shooting 46.2 percent from the field and 38.3 percent from 3-point range.

You can say the Cavs’ rebuild started to shift with the selection of Garland at No. 5 overall in the 2019 NBA Draft. If the Cavs don’t take Garland at five, perhaps taking Jarrett Culver, Coby White or Jaxson Hayes (the next three picks), it completely changes the rebuild. Garland was raw coming in, but the Cavs at that point just didn’t have anyone on the roster with his long-term upside.

After a rookie year in which he struggled coming off a season-ending injury at Vanderbilt, in which he only played five games, particularly in the second half of the 19-20 season Garland took the keys of the franchise. In the second half of that season, Garland averaged 18.8 ppg and 6.3 assists, while shooting 46.2 ppg from the field, and shooting 40.4 percent from 3. You started to see some signs of a potential Garland breakout in the second half of that season.

Again, it sounds strange to say that a guy that had a leap year last year, who led the Cavs to a 44-win season and turned into a very good All-Star last year has once again leveled up again this year, but that indeed has been the case.  The one area Garland needed to get better at is getting to the free-throw line more. A year ago he was getting to the free throw line 3.5 times a game compared to this year getting to the line 5.1 times a game.

Garland’s field goal percentage finishing at the rim (on shots from 8 ft or closer) is down from a year ago, 46.9 percent currently compared to a year ago when it was around 53 percent. However, Garland has been much better after a slow start to the season in that area.  It’s not just stats, as the eye test when watching Garland this year shows that he’s more now than ever hitting those contested high-degree-of-difficulty layups, while his floater continues to be such a real weapon.

It appears the game has gotten slower for Garland, his confidence has grown more from even last year and things just come so much more naturally for him. He has such a good in-between game,  and his level of shot creation and shot-making is truly top-notch. Mitchell has made more 3s, but Garland is the better pure shooter. Garland’s deep range is close to that of prime Damian Lillard or Steph Curry.