The Cleveland Cavaliers’ return to playoff contention will likely hinge on Darius Garland taking his game to the next level.
According to Cavs assistant coach J.J. Outlaw, the young point guard’s vision already stands out and is comparable to those of legendary guards Outlaw has previously worked with.
“I think it’s easy to talk about his ability to shoot the ball when you get him in individual workouts,” said Outlaw. “He certainly has a really good stroke and a great looking shot and this year proved it will go in. But he is a pure point guard. Maybe we have gotten away from that in the NBA a little bit. Everybody seems to be a combo or hybrid of some sort. He is the guy that is like, ‘You guys want me to take how many 3s?’ He sees those as possessions where he is not getting Jarrett [Allen] a lob, Bull (Collin Sexton) a shot or K-Love (Kevin Love) on a pop.
“I don’t know what his ceiling could be. He sees things that sometimes as coaches you don’t even see until the next day on film and you wonder how he saw that in the moment and how he had the confidence to make those plays and passes. He has some of the best vision that I’ve been around. This is my 10th year in the league and I’ve had the opportunity to coach Kobe [Bryant], Steve Nash, Mike Conley, Steve Blake, some of these really good guards in this league, and Darius’ vision is right up there. He sees everything. He has the ability to be a very, very special player.”
After he was drafted by Cleveland with the fifth overall pick in the 2019 NBA Draft, Garland had a lackluster rookie year, averaging 12.3 points and 3.9 assists per game.
But he showed improvement in his second season in the league, posting averages of 17.4 points and 6.1 assists per contest. He also received votes for the Most Improved Player award.