Darius Garland was not an All-Star this last go-around, as he was in the 2021-22 campaign. Having said that, Garland still made things happen in his fourth year with the Cleveland Cavaliers, and his statline still indicated he’s one of the game’s high-quality lead guards.
Garland had 21.6 points per contest, which was nearly identical to his previous season, and Garland connected on 41.0 percent of his three-point shot attempts. Paired with his scoring output, Garland had 7.8 assists per outing, and was one of only nine NBA players that averaged 20-plus points and seven-plus assists per contest in 2022-23.
By most accounts, Garland played really well for the Wine and Gold, and with the arrival of Donovan Mitchell via trade from the Utah Jazz prior to last season, Garland’s splits should not have been taken for granted.
Now, Garland was not in the All-Star Game in 2023, but moving forward, he’s more than capable of being an All-Star-level lead guard game-in and game-out for Cleveland. He should be in line for his share of All-Star appearances in years ahead, too, with his talent level.
That said, there’s obviously so much talent at guard around the league, and at Garland’s lead guard position, in particular, there’s so many incredible players. Luka Doncic, Stephen Curry, Damian Lillard, Ja Morant and De’Aaron Fox are just some players that come to mind in that regard.
Along those lines, it’s always intriguing to see where various outlets have players in their rankings ahead of seasons to come, and recently, Frank Urbina of Hoops Hype dropped his latest point guard rankings predictions, in stating his top 24 of that position. There, Urbina had Garland checking in at No. 14.
Urbina did mention how Garland’s numbers did “seem to stagnate,” but he also expressed how no matter the splits, Garland “has already established himself as an All-Star-level point guard thanks to his great quickness, savvy ball-handling and three-point shooting ability,” and that he’s set for another quality campaign.
Darius Garland’s HoopsHype ranking prediction was no slight, and overall, it shows just how much talent is at DG’s position around the NBA.
Garland was just in front of Jrue Holiday (No. 15) in Urbina’s rankings, with Kyrie Irving just ahead of Garland at No. 13, whereas Jalen Brunson checked in at No. 12 and LaMelo Ball at No. 11.
Several of the players in this range are debatable at this stage, and all are more than capable of playing at an extremely high level as playmakers, multi-level scorers, and shot creators for their respective teams.
From there, the top 10 on the list was filled with big-time players, and there were even players further down such as Spencer Dinwiddie (No. 24) and Josh Giddey (No. 19) who can take over games with their size, pick-and-roll play and slashing abilities. Giddey, in particular, is a terrific passer as well, for what it’s worth.
Although to reiterate, from a Cavs’ perspective, Darius Garland has already made an All-Star appearance, which came in 2022 in his third season, and he’s been one of the key reasons for Cleveland’s turnaround and emergence as an Eastern Conference contender.
Garland’s wide-ranging skill set individually, combined with how he’s helped his teammates as a versatile and uber-talented playmaker have both been instrumental for the Wine and Gold. His brief playoff run was an inconsistent one, and he’ll have to bounce back, but with better shooting around him and more experience, he should rebound looking onward then.
Generally, however, as Urbina’s prediction breakdown demonstrated, there’s such an abundance of talent at lead guard in the NBA, and while some may believe Garland is a bit low for now, his standing there was no slight.
There’s just so many gifted playmakers at that position, and in the same light, it showed how plenty of the league’s best at that position can really fill it up as shooters and multi-faceted on-ball threats, too. Regardless, Darius Garland has proven himself to be one of the game’s best young floor generals who should only get better from here.