No. 3: Darius Garland, No. 5 pick in 2019 Draft
From a 7’3″ center to a 6’1″ point guard, Darius Garland was an elite pick with the No. 5 pick in the 2019 NBA Draft. He was far from a lock for the Cavs to draft with that pick, as the highly-ranked guard missed nearly all of his freshman season at Vanderbilt with a knee injury.
The 2019 draft board went as expected ahead of the Cavaliers, with Zion Williamson, Ja Morant, RJ Barrett and De’Andre Hunter filling out the first four picks. The Cavs would have had a solid argument for drafting another player with the fifth pick; players like Jarrett Culver and Cam Reddish were healthier and better positional fits a year after drafting Collin Sexton eighth overall.
To their credit, Cleveland took the best player on their board and selected Darius Garland. He has been a brilliant selection in his own right, making an All-Star Game and proving himself one of the best young guards in the league. His combination of scoring, shooting and passing makes him an ideal fit for the modern game, and he does all with excellence.
Only seven players have ever averaged 20 points, 7.5 assists and shot 40 percent from 3-point range; the list is a collection of Hall of Famers (Stephen Curry, Damian Lillard, Larry Bird and Kevin Johnson), fellow rising star Tyrese Haliburton, and flash-in-the-pan Dana Barros. Garland hit those marks last year while playing alongside another star in Donovan Mitchell.
The Cavs’ selection only looks better when compared to what came after in 2019. The next five picks: Jarrett Culver, Coby White, Jaxson Hayes, Rui Hachimura and Cam Reddish. None of those players have even sniffed stardom and none are in line to start entering this fifth season; only White is with his original team, and Culver is already out of the league.