3 areas Cavs’ Darius Garland has shown growth this season

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After a breakout season in 2021-22, Darius Garland has responded well in his fourth year in the 2022-23 campaign to this point for the Cleveland Cavaliers. He wasn’t given the All-Star nod this time around, but it’s not as if Garland hasn’t solidified himself as one of the NBA’s best guards, and he’s again been one of the key reasons for Cleveland having a strong season thus far.

It was a relatively difficult beginning of the season for Garland, as he dealt with an eye laceration suffered in the season opener, and at other points, has had to endure a knee sprain, and like others, was battling sickness earlier in the year.

For a while since, however, Garland has settled in for Cleveland, and his ever-evolving game has defenders often off-balance, and both as a scorer and playmaker, he’s improved as the season has worn on and he’s gotten more comfortable.

With that in mind, here, we’ll break down how Garland has shown growth in three key areas for the Cavs this season.

We’ll begin with his scoring.

Growth Area No. 1: Continually rounding out his scoring skill set

Whether it’s the first or second growth area that’s resonated with me pertaining to Garland, he’s continued to round out his scoring abilities.

On the year, Garland has had 22.0 points per game, which is a bit of step up from his breakout season last year, and after a somewhat beginning of the year, he’s picked things up. On the season, he’s connected on a career-best 42.4 percent of his three-point attempts, too, and has had a true shooting percentage of 60.0.

There was, and still realistically to some degree is, an adjustment for Garland, similar to others, in relation to playing with Mitchell, but Garland has found ways to mesh with and play off him better it seems.

Generally, though, Garland has clearly taken that next step as a scorer this season. He’s shown viability as a movement shooter and improved as an off-ball player, and on-ball, his creativity, quickness, and feel for generating space has made him a nightmare to guard. Plus, he’s found ways to get to the foul line more this season, as he’s had 4.9 attempts per game this season, which has been another encouraging growth sign.

In pick-and-roll situations, he’s been able to counter opponents, and take full advantage often. Whether opponents have made mistakes in going under from miscommunications and he’s risen into deep balls, he’s hit floaters against drop, or gotten to the cup, Garland’s PnR feel has been outstanding, and that will only become more refined from here.

As we touched on, it was a tough go for Garland early on, largely due to him having to find his rhythm coming off injury, but he’s been crushing it for a while now, and was among the most notable All-Star snubs. Since the turn of the year to 2023 (a 25-game sample size), he’s had 22.8 points per game on 62.7 percent true shooting, including a 45.4 percent clip from three.

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