3 NBA legends Darius Garland should study for Cleveland Cavaliers

Darius Garland, Cleveland Cavaliers. (Photo by Ken Blaze-USA TODAY Sports)
Darius Garland, Cleveland Cavaliers. (Photo by Ken Blaze-USA TODAY Sports) /
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A year after being named as the worst player in the NBA during his rookie 2019-20 season, Darius Garland became the first for the Cleveland Cavaliers to be named an NBA All-Star since LeBron James in 2018. Garland showed a determination to learn from his mistakes, something that has served his career and team well ever since he joined Cleveland’s roster.

Garland’s leap to stardom developed alongside Evan Mobley’s historic rookie season. Together, the tandem developed into a lethal pick-and-roll duo. The former Vanderbilt guard has grown into a pass-first point guard, distributing selflessly across the court to any and every scorer.

In his rookie year, he only averaged 12.3 points and 3.9 assists. Last season, DG the PG had his best 3-point shooting season, connecting on 41 percent of his six attempts from beyond the arc. Additionally, he averaged 21.6 points and 7.8 assists.

Cleveland’s franchise point guard is a student of the game. He continues to learn and improve year by year, starring next to another lethal guard in Donovan Mitchell. Garland happily shared the backcourt with another star, serving as a leader both on and off the court.

While Garland has overcome the doubt and vitriol, he is far from reaching his prime as an NBA talent. As he continues to study the league’s past and present legends, Garland has the opportunity to mold his game into the best possible guard he can be.

As the 2023-24 regular season approaches, these three NBA legends are perfect examples for Darius Garland to study and learn from in order to capitalize on his skill set and talent for the modern NBA.

Studying Kyrie Irving’s offensive game is a perfect choice for Darius Garland

If Garland is looking to study one of the best undersized scoring point guards of the past decades, former Cleveland Cavalier Kyrie Irving is the perfect candidate. Remembered best in Cleveland for “The Shot” in Game 7 of the 2016 NBA Finals, Irving’s basketball legacy is that of an unstoppable force from anywhere on the court.

One of Garland’s biggest remaining downfalls is his lack of confidence offensively. NBA.com stat tracking suggests that Garland’s efficiency drastically faulters in clutch moments, shooting only 33.9 percent from the field and 23.8 percent from 3-point range in clutch games last season.

This partly could be due to the constant shift in his offensive role since entering the league. At first, Collin Sexton was Cleveland’s primary scoring option, but in the 2021-22 season, a torn meniscus ended Sexton’s season after only 11 games. Suddenly, Garland was thrust into Cleveland’s leading role as a scorer and orchestrator.

The next season, Garland was placed back into a secondary scoring role with Donovan Mitchell, the best teammate Garland has had thus far. Continually changing his role is not an easy task, but Garland has managed it with poise and a team-first mentality.

Sometimes, though, Garland’s selflessness is his biggest weakness.

In the 2023 NBA Playoffs, Garland’s confidence waned and played a role in Cleveland’s swift five-game exit against the New York Knicks. For Garland, developing his mental fortitude is the next best step forward for future playoff success.

To learn that killer instinct, no point guard better models this than Irving. Throughout his career, Kyrie Irving has displayed a vast collection of clutch moments.

For Garland to take the next step forward in his offense, he will need to recognize sooner the moments in which he needs to take control of the game. At times, Garland hesitates before seizing control. When he decides to score, he can, but that decision is often too cautious.

Studying Kyrie Irving changes that.

Irving, a 6-foot-2 point guard, can seemingly score at will against any opponent of any size. Garland’s shifty movements and clever ball handling talent has broken down numerous defenders, and mimicking Irving’s move set would elevate Garland’s lethality even further.

Nothing scares Irving away from the basket, both inside and outside. Over Irving’s career, he has achieved a 39.1 percent hit rate from three and has averaged 23.4 points per game. Irving has maintained offensive greatness alongside various other All-NBA talents such as LeBron James, Kevin Durant, James Harden, and more.

Irving’s mentality is what has given him his eight All-Star selections, three All-NBA accolades, and NBA Championship. Becoming a similarly brave, unwavering guard should be high on Darius Garland’s priority list this offseason.

Along with a killer instinct, Garland should look back in time to one of the best point guards ever to play in the Central Division.