Darius Garland had a quality 2022-23 season, for the most part. Garland had 21.6 points and 7.8 assists per contest, and overcame a tough start to the campaign, most of which had to do with him having dealt with an eye contusion.
He didn’t take anybody by surprise as compared to in the 2021-22 season, when he made his first All-Star appearance, but Garland eventually settled in, and became more comfortable playing with Donovan Mitchell. The dynamic with Mitchell was going to take time for other Cavaliers players to get used to, and there could still be some finetuning to come there.
Circling back to Garland here, though, while he had some struggles in Cleveland’s first-round series loss to the New York Knicks, similarly to other crucial Cavaliers players, his fourth year was generally a good one.
Garland had some inconsistencies at times, sure. Despite that, he was typically steady for the Wine and Gold in Year 4, and he showed some further development as he became more comfortable.
Even with a tough close to the regular season from deep, Garland connected on 41.0 percent of his three-point attempts on the campaign, on what was 6.0 attempts per contest. His true shooting rate was 58.7 percent, and he hit 86.3 percent of his free throw attempts.
Looking onward, Garland should keep taking strides in rounding out his game for Cleveland, too.
Garland will continue to fine-tune his game for the Cavs in the 2023-24 season.
There were some bumps in the road, literally and figuratively for Garland this past season, with some ailments and with the group acclimating Mitchell. Having said that, his splits were pretty impressive, looking back.
Garland didn’t have the greatest postseason debut, but he’s not the only Cav who was inconsistent, and his regular season was nothing to sneeze at, even with lofty expectations.
Garland connected on 39.1 percent of his pull-up three-point attempts last regular season, on a frequency of 20.6 percent, per NBA.com’s shot tracking data. Paired with that, his catch-and-shoot efficiency on three-point attempts was 44.0 percent on a 15.5 percent frequency.
Garland’s proficiency as a deep shooter, particularly in on-ball and pick-and-roll situations, led to him taking advantage of his handle and quickness, and that enabled him to get to other areas. Eventually, his perimeter shooting prowess and shiftiness helped him draw fouls, combined with his change-of-pace, and that played into Garland drawing a career-high in free throw attempts per contest, at 4.7.
Moving forward, it’s evident deep balls and strong pick-and-play will be crucial aspects of Garland’s game, and him generating open shots for others off of his own threat will always be key for Cleveland. Garland’s vision and wide-ranging passing tool box were on display throughout this now-past season and have been for several years, to that point.
Additionally, to help spacing, Garland and Mitchell should only become more dangerous as scorers and distributors if the Cavaliers can put more shooting around them this offseason. That has to be Cleveland’s priority, whether it’s via free agency and/or via trade; there’s been a number of rumored potential targets in that realm for the Cavs, and one would assume Cleveland addresses that pressing need.
Anyway, based on his pattern of development from year to year so far in his tenure with the Cavs, one would be in the right to anticipate Garland finds more ways to fine-tune his game in Year 5.
Of course, the Cavaliers helping themselves and Garland/Mitchell by adding shooting and solidifying their wing outlook would make a difference, but there’s plenty of reasoning to believe Garland can hone in more on his game as well.
Ideally, it’d be meaningful for him to have some more movement looks and transition opportunities, and both are offensive aspects to look out for in 2023-24 for DG.
Realistically, though, as he’ll be set to enter his age-24 season, one should expect Garland to at least find ways to draw a nice dose of free throws, and to keep making strides in sharpening up his decision-making in countering hard closeouts. Hopefully, finetuning a few things can pay off as the season progresses, and into his second crack at the playoffs in 2024 from there.