Regrading the selection of Darius Garland
There is a temptation by NBA teams to take into account their current roster when deciding which player to select in the draft. That needs to come into play at some point, most of all with position-locked centers who will block one another’s path to development, but for the most part a team needs to ignore position and draft based on a player’s talent, upside and skills. The team of players you have in five seasons when that rookie is ready to thrive could be very different than the team you have at the draft.
That’s exactly what happened with the Cavaliers in the 2019 NBA Draft, and to their credit, they drafted Darius Garland with the No. 5 pick despite having taken Collin Sexton eighth overall the year before. They tried playing both point guards together for a few years, and ultimately when Garland was the better player they moved on from Sexton (imagine if they had taken Mikal Bridges instead of Sexton in 2018?).
Garland wasn’t just the better player in the Cavs’ backcourt; he was the best player available to the Cavaliers when they picked him in 2019. Garland had developed as a shooter, scorer and on-ball playmaker, able to score on-ball and off-ball and displaying elite passing skills. He was not just the right pick at No. 5, but he should have gone a few spots higher. His success makes the New York Knicks and Atlanta Hawks (who picked third and fourth) look bad.
Under contract for years to come, Darius Garland is the reason that the 2019 NBA Draft was pivotal for the franchise. Without Garland, they probably are not in the position they are, a 51-win team facing the problems of a good team, not a bad one. He’s been that good, and it’s why the 2019 draft was still a success despite the failures later in the first round.