Darius Garland is the first Cavalier fans should have their eyes on throughout this month. Garland would play in the season opener for Cleveland against the Brooklyn Nets, however, he would then go on to miss the next four games due to a hamstring injury. Having been out for several games to start the season, Garland’s presence will definitely be seen on the court as this new month unfolds.
Of the first three games he played in so far Garland has averaged 17.7 points, 1.7 rebounds, and 6.0 assists per game. He had his best outing so far this year against the Warriors with 24 points, 3 rebounds, and 7 assists. Last year Darius finished the regular season with an average stat line of 21.6 points, 2.7 rebounds and 7.8 assists per game. Garland has the potential this year to exceed expectations by improving his productivity and efficiency as a passer and scorer.
Darius is the engine that keeps the offense running, and having him back in the lineup will help keep the Cavs competitive. Although Donovan is still the go-to guy for Cleveland, and will likely continue to lead in scoring on an average basis, Darius’ playmaking abilities and overall basketball IQ are essential for this team to succeed.
One area that Garland needs to improve on throughout this month is his three-point shooting. Currently, he’s only shooting beyond the arc an average of 8.3 percent. Considering he had missed a few games, it’s understandable the numbers would skew on the lower side. However, the Cavs cannot operate at their full potential if Garland’s shooting does not get back to where it was last year, or improve from that point. Last season Darius’ three-point shot average was 41 percent, the best of his career thus far. It doesn’t seem too far-fetched to imagine he will get back to that, or even break his career average in shooting.
Cleveland needs the best version of Garland out there on the court. With the full roster finally healthy and altogether, sans Ty Jerome, the Cavs can hope to get the most out of their franchise point guard as the season continues. There were a few moments in the fourth quarter against the Warriors where it looked like Darius might be pulling back. Chalk that up to it being one of his first games back from injury, or just general fatigue.
Either way, the team performs best when Garland is playing at his highest tempo. Fans should expect to see Darius take that leap in performance this year. While Mitchell is having an incredible, MVP-caliber, start to the season, Garland is still the leader of this team. It’s up to him to ensure the team is applying the pressure and operating at a high pace against opponents. Three things to watch out for with Darius Garland for the rest of this month: an increase in three-point shooting, an uptick in attacking the basket with pressure, and more high-IQ assists and playmaking.
Let’s move on to another starter who has been out for a while. It’s time to explore how the Cavs’ defensive identity will continue to develop throughout November.