Cavs’ rookie Darius Garland had quite the learning experience this season. Though there were bumps in the road, he did show a nice amount of potential whether people would like to admit it or not.
Garland obviously had the flaws that a young point guard in the NBA goes through. However, the one part of his game that was very impressive was his playmaking ability which is only going to improve as he grows his decision making and awareness. He also had impressive stretches in terms of scoring the ball.
In the month of January, Darius averaged 15 points per game, 6 assists, and shot the ball well. Garland also scored in double figures in 30 of his final 34 games of the season while averaging 12.3 points and 3.9 assists per game. The most important piece of Garland’s profile was his outside shooting, and it was a solid strength this season.
Shooting 35.5 percent from beyond the arc is not an eye-popping number, but his splits between catch and shoot and pull-up attempts inspire a lot more optimism. He still looks like a strong outside shooter and there’s every reason to think his overall 3-point percentage will increase next year as he gets more accurate and more selective on pull up attempts.
Remember, we’re looking at a player who essentially went from high school to the NBA with just a five-game, non-conference stop at Vanderbilt in between, and it’s clear that Garland has plenty of offensive tools.
He can shoot, with accuracy, over the top of the defense. He can get into the lane and finish. He can move the defense and find open teammates. The struggle this year was figuring out when and where to deploy each of these tools.
More repetition and more NBA game experience should slow the game down for him even more. It will help him see when it’s worth forcing the pass, trying the floater, or backing things off and looking for a screen to shoot over.
His defense wasn’t good though as he appeared to be smaller then he actually is, he also wasn’t the most efficient player at times, and he had some stretches where his shot was off as well. A lot of people have been critical about his lack of aggression when it comes to scoring the basketball, but as the floor general and the only playmaker in the lineup, getting buckets isn’t the main focus, and part of that is on the coaching staff as well.
Garland deserves to be the one to run this offense as the point guard of the future similar to what Atlanta did for Trae Young, as his scoring is going to expand every single year that he’s in the league. He might not have had a season similar to Zion Williamson or Ja Morant, but he’s had a solid campaign for a rookie point guard.
Darius Garland has the potential to be a building block for the Cavaliers’ future.
Photo Credit: AP Photos