The 2023-24 season has not started yet for the Cleveland Cavaliers, who just wrapped up their third preseason game on Monday versus Israeli club Maccabi Ra’anana. Cleveland will conclude preseason play on Friday at the Indiana Pacers.
Fortunately, the regular season is almost here in the NBA, and the Cavaliers will start out the new campaign on the road at the Brooklyn Nets next Wednesday, Oct. 25. Cleveland is looking to build on their past season, where they returned to the playoffs for the first time since 2018, before losing to the New York Knicks in the first round in disappointing fashion.
Although the 2023 Playoffs did not go how the Wine and Gold faithful would’ve hoped, the 2022-23 season was one that saw the team turn a corner, and this offseason was one where Cleveland added much needed shooting.
Additionally, despite the first-round exit, that was an experience the Cavaliers can learn from, and heading into the new season, Darius Garland, Evan Mobley and others should benefit from another offseason. More time for those players, along with Donovan Mitchell, and the new pieces should make Cleveland better off, and the Cavs reportedly stressing having more man and ball movement on offense should make them more versatile.
With that in mind, while he’ll still profile as the club’s top playmaker and will still create for his own with his ball handling abilities, the emphasis on motion and pace should help Garland in his own right as well.
Recently, as it relates to how Garland can possibly reach another level, it was meaningful that, Ty Jerome, Garland’s new teammate, believes there’s similarities between Garland and Stephen Curry. Jerome spent last season playing with Curry.
As Jerome alluded to above, via Evan Dammarell of Right Down Euclid, Garland is not at Curry’s level yet, but there’s “similarities” between the two. Curry’s shooting, both on and off the ball, speaks for itself; the guy is the best shooter the NBA has seen, and has made the most threes in league history.
Curry’s resume is legendary as well, with him being a nine-time All-Star, four-time NBA champ and two-time MVP, along with tons of other accolades. That said, Jerome did play with Curry last season on the Golden State Warriors, and his take wasn’t hyperbole in that context.
Garland has a long ways to go for him to be nearly in the same tier of Curry, but there’s validity to Jerome’s comments when one factors in Garland’s overall skill set as a shot-maker, uber-talented ball handler and creative playmaker.
He was the only NBA player last season to average 20-plus points, seven-plus assists and shoot 40-plus percent from three-point range. With the arrival of Donovan Mitchell before last season via trade, Garland having those splits was all the more impressive, too.
Garland has been an integral player for the Cavaliers in their turnaround, and made his first All-Star Game in Year 3. Though he’s not in that Curry wavelength at this point, with his ability to hit shots at all levels, including from way downtown and off movement, one could see where Jerome was coming from. The handle and passing tools are similar as well, and Garland is quicker than Curry.
Garland probably won’t have nearly the career Curry he will have, but in his fourth season, Curry had 22.9 points and 6.9 assists per game, and shot 45.3 percent from deep, prior to him starting to play at a near and then MVP level. Garland had 21.6 points and 7.8 dimes per game last season in Year 4, and hit 41.0 percent from three.
If DG the PG can hit another gear, then maybe superstardom is truly on the horizon for him, which could make the Cavs all the more dangerous come the playoffs. It’s on him to be more aggressive on the big stage, too, however.