Last season for Darius Garland was about finding a path to thriving alongside Donovan Mitchell. That wasn’t an entirely new experience for Garland, who joined the team a year after Collin Sexton and had to develop as his wingman. Even so, in 2021-22 Garland made an All-Star team and blossomed into an on-ball star with Sexton out due to injury.
Then Garland had to shift yet again, unpacking his off-ball game once again and finding the right rhythm with Spida. He did an excellent job of it, increasing his efficiency to maintain his production despite fewer shots. Now, however, Garland is poised for another step forward.
No one is expecting or predicting that Garland will take the primary role from Mitchell, but the balance will become more even this year. Garland will initiate the offense more often, letting Mitchell stretch his off-ball wings, and increase both his volume of shots and his playmaking usage.
With the Boston Celtics gelling a new and injury-prone group, the Philadelphia 76ers in chaos and the Milwaukee Bucks aging and breaking in a new head coach, it’s not out of the question that the Cavaliers could rise to the top of the East standings. If Garland is laying down 25 points, 10 assists and on the top team in the East, he could shock a deep guard field right to the ranks of All-NBA.