Rookie season – Year 1
After Darius Garland was drafted, there were concerns with the Cavs’ roster. Not only were they a terrible defensive team the year prior, they just added another 6-foot-1 guard to the roster, with not a lot of defensive upside, in addition to Collin Sexton, another 6-foot-1 guard they drafted in the 2018 NBA Draft. The tandem of Garland and Sexton didn’t look to be a great defensive duo, and looked terrible on paper.
The naysayers of Garland were right, in his rookie season. In his first year in the NBA, he was statistically the worst NBA player. Not just rookie, but the worst player in the whole league. The Cleveland Cavaliers were a terrible defensive team again. Garland was not the only reason for the struggle defensively, but he was definitely a key component. Garland’s defensive rating as a rookie ranked second overall in league history at the time. The only player worse than him at that point as a rookie was his teammate, Collin Sexton.
The Cavaliers actually decided to play Garland at the shooting guard position, more so than the point guard in his rookie season. Most of his minutes played came at the off-guard, and not being the lead facilitator. Maybe because he was out of position that he wasn’t as good of a player, but it’s not certain.
Garland’s rookie season was cut short, and the league was put on pause because of the COVID-19 pandemic. He seemed to be turning a corner, but his season was over. He ended up averaging 12.3 points and 3.9 assists per game. His efficiency was really poor, as he shot 40.1 percent from the field and 35.5 percent from the 3-point line, but 87.5 percent from the free throw line was promising.
Garland didn’t even sniff an All-Rookie team, and missed out on both All-Rookie First and Second team. In Garland’s defense, he didn’t play a lot in college, which did stunt his development. Combine that with the fact that a rookie point guard is one of the hardest positions to play, it just made Garland’s rookie season that much harder.