In Darius Garland’s first season in the league, he looked out of sorts. His playmaking was okay, but that was really his best asset in his rookie season. His scoring was inefficient, as he shot 40.1 percent from the field, and 35.5 percent from three-point land. His 87.5 percent clip from the free throw line was a great sign that he could become a great shooter, though, and luckily for Cleveland, he did.
As of now, Garland is one of the best guards in the whole NBA, and his playmaking is instrumental for the team. In his 2022-23 season, he averaged 21.6 points and 7.8 assists, while also shooting a career-high 41.0 percent from distance on 6.0 attempts per night.
Garland was a Most Improved Player candidate in the 2021-22 season, where he made his very first All-Star appearance, and finished third in the voting for the league’s MIP. He was Cleveland’s best player that year, as he averaged 21.7 points, 8.6 assists, and 3.3 rebounds per night on a Cavs squad that barely missed the playoffs.
Last season, Garland definitely had a good case to be an All-Star, but he didn’t make the team. His teammate, Donovan Mitchell, was an All-Star starter, which was nice to see, though. Either way, Garland is an All-Star-level talent, and there’s no doubt about it. He should improve next season, as he’s only 23 years old, so he has plenty of room to grow.
Garland’s game isn’t perfect, let’s be honest. He’s not a high quality defender individually. He’s not very athletic by NBA standards, either. He’s more of a jump shooter instead of a player who gets to the rim often. However, he works to his skills, and he’s become a very reliable player.
Next season will be Garland’s first year of his max contract, that will be worth $193 million over 5 years, and potentially up to $231 million with escalators. Garland will make $33.5 million next season, which is a good amount of money. Still, Garland deserves every penny of that max deal, and down the road, he could very well be in line for another large contract in the 2028-29 offseason once that contract expires, or in an extension prior to that.
So, what does Garland need to do to become an All-Star again, then?
The Eastern Conference is loaded at guard, but if Garland plays at a similar level and impacts winning, he’ll be in the thick of that conversation.
The guards in the Eastern Conference are plentiful, as there are players like Jrue Holiday, Trae Young, LaMelo Ball, Jalen Brunson, and Tyrese Haliburton, just to name a few. Garland’s competition is a lot, if he wants to be an All-Star again.
There’s no reason he can’t be an All-Star, though. Darius Garland is one of the best guards in the whole Eastern Conference. There are two starting guards in the All-Star game, two off the bench, as well as two wild card players, which can be any position. So, in theory, there can be at maximum six guards to be in the All-Star game, and Garland’s definitely close or in the top six guard conversation for the Eastern Conference.
Garland averaged very similar stats from his All-Star season to the 2022-23 season, but considering the talent out in the backcourt in the Eastern Conference, he wasn’t selected. Next season, however, with Kyrie Irving in the Western Conference and Jrue Holdiay getting older, that could open up two slots for two guards, and Garland might be the one to take that spot.
If I were to give Garland a stat line that would be good enough to be an All-Star, I’d say he’d have to average similar, if not better than what he averaged this season. He has more weapons on offense in Cleveland now, so he could definitely average close to nine assists per night.
His points per game average last season was 0.1 less than his All-Star season, which isn’t much of a drop off, especially considering he had to share the court with an All-NBA member in Donovan Mitchell.
Also, the Cavaliers could have another All-Star, as Evan Mobley seems in line for an offensive leap. Mobley could make the jump and become a DPOY, as well as an All-Star, if he plays well enough, but that’s a conversation for another day.
All in all, Garland is a special point guard, and he has all the talent and drive to be able to be an All-Star again, as soon as next season.
It won’t be easy, but he has a good chance to be an All-Star if he has similar stats to his past two seasons, and continues to impact winning for Cleveland.