Grading the Cleveland Cavaliers guards’ play so far this season

Darius Garland and Donovan Mitchell, Cleveland Cavaliers. (Photo by Ken Blaze-USA TODAY Sports)
Darius Garland and Donovan Mitchell, Cleveland Cavaliers. (Photo by Ken Blaze-USA TODAY Sports) /
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Part of the reason for the Cleveland Cavaliers taking another step forward heading toward the closing stretch of the 2022-23 season has been their guard play.

Their defensive frontcourt duo of Evan Mobley and Jarrett Allen has been big-time for the vast majority of the season, and others such as Isaac Okoro, Dean Wade (when healthy) and Lamar Stevens have helped as well, too. Caris LeVert’s all-around play since he’s been mostly a bench contributor has also made a difference, and as the team gets mostly healthy, they should be primed for a playoff push.

As we alluded to above, though, Cleveland’s guards have been key to their success, offensively, especially. With that in mind, here, we’ll take a closer look at each of their guards that have contributed as the season worn on, and ultimately grade their performance for pre-All-Star play.

With that, we’ll begin the Cavaliers’ catalyst night-in and night-out.

Examining Darius Garland’s play so far

Darius Garland was not selected to his second All-Star Game, and that has to undoubtedly be a motivator for him the rest of the way. Last season, he was named to the All-Star Game for the first time, and it was a breakout Year 3 for him.

Garland had a somewhat rocky start to his fourth season, and throughout the year to this point, has had to endure a number of injuries, from an eye laceration, to a knee sprain and recently, he’s had to deal with a thumb sprain that’s seemingly lingered. He’s been hit in the face/head countless times on drives this season, too, and as a fan, it’s been so difficult to watch for him.

On the plus side, though, Garland has really been playing great basketball for a considerable chunk of the season here, and leading into the All-Star break, has been on a mission. On the season, he’s now back up to 21.7 points and 8.0 assists per contest, and in his last 15 games, he’s posted splits of 22.6 points and 8.3 assists per game.

As Garland has gotten more comfortable over the course of the year, he’s gotten it rolling in a huge way from three-point range, too. He’s now up to shooting 41.9 percent from deep on the season, and in that 15-game stretch going into the All-Star break, he’s hit 46.8 percent from there on 6.3 attempts per outing.

His scoring and playmaking abilities are huge for the Cavaliers on offense, and Garland seems poised for quite the strong finish to the regular season. His arrow is pointing up heading toward the playoff push, and as the 23-year-old gains more experience, his game will round more into form. His team defense and playmaking off-ball there shouldn’t be glossed over, either.

He just has to take further strides as a player in closing time situations, which he’s been doing of late, but with some inconsistencies at times, and some on-ball defensive concerns still, an A- grade is more than fair. Garland being labeled as an All-Star snub is a reasonable take.

Garland’s 2022-23 grade thus far: A-

Next up, we’ll get into the grade for the other member of Cleveland’s star starting backcourt.