Darius Garland
(Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)

Darius Garland is Suddenly Good at Basketball Again

The Cleveland Cavaliers selected Darius Garland with the fifth overall pick in the 2019 NBA Draft. The hope was that he would help anchor the backcourt for the rebuilding Cavs. Unfortunately, Garland’s rookie season didn’t go according to plan. Maybe that’s an understatement. Garland scored 12.3 points per game on a pedestrian 40.1% from the field. The advanced stats put him as the worst player in the entire league. He was dead last in Win Shares, Value Over Replacement Player, and Real Plus/Minus. Defensively, he and Collin Sexton were the worst backcourt in the NBA.

Darius Garland Improved out of Nowhere

Such a poor rookie showing didn’t give Darius Garland much margin for error to prove he belonged in the league and justify Cleveland’s 2019 first-rounder. Then the 2020-21 season rolled around and Garland suddenly decided to be good at basketball again. This season, the second-year guard is averaging 17.7 points and 6.2 assists while shooting 45.3% from the field and 40.6% from three.

The month of April has been incredible for Garland, where he’s averaged 20.8 points and 7.5 assists over 13 games while shooting 48.8% from the field and 42.2% from deep. Defensively, there has also been a noticeable improvement. Garland’s teammate Larry Nance Jr. had this to say about the sophomore’s upward trend:

I don’t think there’s anyone that could have foreseen this. Defensively, has been improved. He’s talking, he’s calling plays, I can’t say enough positive about Darius Garland.

Larry Nance Jr.

Unfortunately, Garland’s development hasn’t necessarily translated into winning for the Cavs. They are just 4-9 in the month of April and have the sixth-worst record in the NBA overall. That was sort of to be expected with their current roster, but there’s no doubt that Darius Garland is proving he belongs in the NBA. He went from being the worst player in the league to being a legitimate scorer and leader at point guard for the Cavaliers.

At this rate, it seems like the Cavs’ 2019 first round selection will pan out. This new development could alter the Cavaliers’ strategy for the 2021 NBA Draft and lead them to selecting a frontcourt player.

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