Donovan Mitchell defends Darius Garland from social media criticism: ‘F——g ridiculous’

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David Butler II-USA TODAY Sports

Darius Garland has been a target of criticism this season, but after the guard helped the Cleveland Cavaliers to a win on Sunday, Donovan Mitchell strongly took on some of the critics in defense of his teammate.

“I’m on social media and I feel like people aren’t giving him the benefit of the doubt,” Mitchell told “I want to speak on that because I think it’s bulls—. At the end of the day, he is a kid that has proven himself, not only to the Cleveland fan base but this league as well. They’re ready to rag on a kid for, what, one half of a season? I think that is B.S. I’ve been waiting to say that.”

In what has been an excellent season for the Cavaliers so far, Garland’s play has been something of a sore spot among some fans. The 24-year-old’s key statistics are down as he is averaging 18.2 points and 6.2 assists per game in his 32 appearances. In the prior two seasons, he averaged more than 21 points per game and more than seven assists per contest.

His 3-point shooting also has dropped significantly, now at 33.9 percent this season after it reached a career-high of 41.0 percent last season. But on Sunday, his back-to-back 3-pointers in the fourth quarter were key to the Cavs getting the best of the Washington Wizards for a 114-105 victory.

Garland was sidelined for a significant stretch after suffering a fractured jaw in December. So far in the month of February, he is averaging just 13.6 points per contest in 11 games heading into the Cavs’ matchup on Tuesday against the Dallas Mavericks.

“He’s continuing to find his way. It’s been two months and he’s slowly getting back to it,” Mitchell added. “At the end of the day, he is going to be there for us. Understanding that come playoffs, come whenever, we need him. He knows that. He’s continuing to build. We have all the confidence in the world in him. But the way people have been talking is f—— ridiculous.

“The kid has done a lot here. So much. For it to be devalued all for a few games is complete B.S. It’s not fair to him. He’s done so much for us as a team. Before I got here. While I’ve been here. He’s going to get back to his form. The kid is 24 years old. It’s not always easy to figure out a fit. He has done a phenomenal job of it and will continue to get back to it. Come playoff time, he will be right there with us. We have his back.”

Despite playing much of January without starters Garland and Evan Mobley because of injuries, the Cavs have been winning at an exceptional rate since 2024 began. Since a loss on Jan. 1, Cleveland has won 19 of 23 games and had separate winning streaks of eight games and nine games, respectively. The lengthy hot stretch has pushed them into second place in the Eastern Conference with a 37-19 record.

Mitchell has been outstanding and may be on the fringes of consideration for NBA MVP. He is averaging 28.1 points, 5.4 rebounds and 6.2 assists per game in his 45 appearances.

Every comment made by the 27-year-old will be closely scrutinized because his long-term future with the Cavaliers remains in doubt. Earlier this month, one NBA executive said there is “no doubt” Mitchell will leave the franchise once his contract is up, though there have also been positive indications for the Cavs about the veteran’s future.

Now, Mitchell coming out in such strong support of Garland — after some early-season speculation about the chemistry between the two — could be seen as a sign that Mitchell shares an important bond with his teammates.

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Mike is a veteran journalist who has covered the NBA for almost three decades. One of his favorite sports memories is the Cavaliers-Nets playoff series from 1993.