Mitchell believes he and Garland should take next step as Cavs duo

Donovan Mitchell and Darius Garland, Cleveland Cavaliers. (Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images)
Donovan Mitchell and Darius Garland, Cleveland Cavaliers. (Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images) /

Last season, the Cleveland Cavaliers swung a blockbuster trade to acquire Donovan Mitchell by way of trade from the Utah Jazz, and he gave Cleveland a ton of production.

In his first year with Cleveland, Mitchell made his fourth straight All-Star appearance, and had career-highs in scoring and three-pointers made with marks of 28.3 and 245. He made his first All-NBA team as well, as he earned Second-Team All-NBA honors.

Mitchell’s shot-making was big-time, and he was one of Cleveland’s top playmakers as well. Operating as a combo guard, Mitchell’s skill set should once again open up his own looks and opportunities for his teammates, and having new weapons such as Max Strus and Georges Niang should help Mitchell as well.

That said, regarding last season, while he had his share of highlight moments, and gave Cleveland added firepower, there were some growing pains, and this season, Mitchell and Darius Garland could be more consistent together.

Fortunately, with last year’s experience (including even in a disappointing playoffs), along with the offseason and another training camp, the two should have better chemistry. And as Mitchell alluded to in recent media availability, via Spencer Davies of Cavs Insider, the backcourt together and the team as a group should benefit as a result.

Donovan Mitchell seemingly believes he and Darius Garland should take the next step as a duo in their second year together with the Cavs.

Mitchell and Garland are both such well-rounded players, and with Strus now involved, and to some extent Niang with his shooting prowess, this dynamic backcourt could be tougher to deal with for opponents. The added spacing from Strus and Niang as Cleveland’s top offseason additions should only help Cavaliers around them offensively. It’s clear with those two now in the fold, among others, and based on the preseason, Cleveland will definitely shoot more threes this year.

But last season, in fairness, there were ups and downs for the Mitchell-Garland pairing as a duo. It’ll be on those two to find the balance between one another as it pertains to getting theirs individually, playing off one another and ensuring the offensive flow is still there for the group.

There’s inherently going to be some instances where the Cavs could ride the hot hand between either Mitchell or Garland, giving how both are supreme talents, and are such multifaceted scorers and shooters. However, both should be able to have a better pulse on each other, and how they’re doing as games progress after a season together last year, as Mitchell essentially stressed in his media availability above, Davies.

Additionally, piggybacking off of that expectation, the Cavs having better shooting around those players and the team prioritizing having more man and ball movement, and pushing pace more, should aid in the duo being more in-sync together. That should help Mitchell and/or Garland be able to have some more in-rhythm looks, and could weaponize both as movement shooters, provided the Cavs get their operation well-oiled fairly early on.

Also, to those points, Evan Mobley being more consistently as a passer and initiating presence could take some pressure off of Garland and Mitchell as well, whether the backcourt is in stretches together or with one of the two getting a breather. Mobley has to show more offensively game-to-game this season, but if he emerges as an offensive force and/or hub big, that would be huge for Cleveland as they look to build on last season.

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Having said that about Mobley’s development, though, Mitchell and Garland are still going to need to lead this Cavs team, and if they appear more in-sync game-to-game, then Cleveland should be much better off in high-leverage moments. The same could hold true in the playoffs, when hopefully, more experience should pay off for the two and the overall group, which has to respond after last season’s playoff failure.