On Monday, there was a promising update on the health status of Darius Garland, per a report from Chris Fedor of Cleveland.com. Garland has been sidelined since December 15 with a fractured jaw after a collision with Boston Celtics big man Kristaps Porzingis. Cavs powerhouse Evan Mobley has because of arthroscopic knee surgery, and he has been rapidly progressing in getting back to on-court activities.
Garland had the wiring removed from his jaw and is now able to do some on-court activities, reportedly as of Wednesday, and Mobley has progressed with his rehab. The return of both seems to be sooner rather than later.
As it pertains to Garland in this sense, while he had his struggles before his jaw injury, Cleveland's new-look offense is one where he could definitely stand to benefit in a major way. Not to overlook Mobley, but with Garland as player best with the ball in his hands initiating the offense from the perimeter, he as a shooter and passer could very well thrive with Cleveland's perimeter-centric style.
Cleveland's revamped offense should put less of an onus on Garland, making his return easy.
Garland has missed the Cavaliers' last 15 games due to his injury, and when he is back in the fold, it will obviously take time for him to get his legs under him again. One can assume he is going to be on a minutes restriction to begin, especially considering Garland had not reportedly been able to physically exert himself at all while the wire was in his jaw.
Additionally, Garland's sluggish season start, partially because of an early hamstring injury, he should benefit from Cleveland's restructured offensive approach.
KJG's Caleb Crowley demonstrated how the Cavaliers have fully been bought into being largely a three-point friendly offense with Garland and Mobley out, and with man and ball movement even further prioritized, it has already paid dividends. After their three comfortable wins this week, the Cavaliers have been second in three-pointers made and first in three-pointers attempted per game over the last 15 games, also ranking sixth in assists per game.
With Garland's shooting capabilities and with his vision, he should enhance Cleveland's efforts there, and not hinder them, despite some early-season struggles, as Crowley mentioned. He would emphasize how Garland's skill set as a well-versed shooter should make Cleveland more dangerous as well.
"Once Garland returns to form, though, he will likely elevate Cleveland's offense rather than harm it. The Cavaliers' system depends heavily on off-ball movement and screens, moving the ball until an open shooter or lane manifests from a defensive lapse. As much as Garland thrives as an on-ball playmaker, he has evolved into a premier off-ball shooter since Donovan Mitchell arrived in the Land."- Caleb Crowley, King James Gospel
Prior to his jaw injury, Garland had not seen the start one would expect to see from him from three-point land. On the season, he has only shot 34.6 percent from three, on what has been 5.2 attempts per game. After shooting 41 percent from deep one season prior, a return to form for Garland feels inevitable, but the immediate injury perils of the Cavaliers stalled Garland from gaining his rhythm.
Along with that, Garland has had a career-high 3.8 turnovers per contest. He had been among the league leaders pre-injury in turnovers per game this season, and while his early-season hamstring injury didn't help him early on, there were inconsistencies for him in general. However, Garland seemed to be finding his footing before the jaw issue sidelined the star guard. When he returns, Garland is the kind of well-rounded shooter and distributor who can definitely benefit from Cleveland's newer offensive approach still.
Garland is a player who will have the ball in his hands regularly, but with the success Cleveland is experiencing of late, he will still more than capable of fitting into the new system. Given his off-ball shooting prowess and with Garland's passing acumen as well, even with the Cavs needing to rewire some things on the perimeter when Garland is back, bringing back in an All-Star caliber talent should not make Cleveland less dynamic. That's with his driving gravity in mind as well.
As mentioned, Garland hit 41.0 percent of his attempts from downtown last season, and even with Donovan Mitchell in the fold, DG had 7.8 assists per contest in 2022-23. This season, he has had 20.7 points per game with lower assist totals, and as was aforementioned, turnovers had been an area of concern prior to him being sidelined.
All of that said, when Garland gets back in the fold for Cleveland's altered style and depth, Garland's unselfishness, all-around shooting expertise and off-ball presence should only make Cleveland better and more dangerous on offense.
There is again going to have to be some recalibration, but Cleveland's revamped offense should put less of a burden on DG, which should help him get going again and enable him to round into form. In the same light, when he returns and starts to get his legs back under him, Garland's presence should only make other guys more comfortable out there as he orchestrates and buys into the gameplan.