It’s a broken record to take home Darius Garland had a breakout season in 2021-22 for the Cleveland Cavaliers. After a rebounding campaign in 2020-21 with 17.4 points and 6.1 assists per game, Garland followed that up in a big way, with 21.7 points and 8.6 assists per game in his third season. He was also a finalist for the NBA’s Most Improved Player award, given to Ja Morant of the Memphis Grizzlies.
Garland looks like an emerging star for the Cavaliers going forward, with his combination of playing ability and vision and as a goalscorer his grip, speed, change of pace and reach make him so hard to explain. Garland has had a great season for himself as a catching and shooting threat, especially in Year 2 making notable progress as a shooter off the rebound from three points in Year 3.
Garland made 38.3% of his three-point attempts in 2021-22, and he had a 40.5% shot clip on three-point pull attempts, according to shot tracking data from NBA.com. His prowess on the ball, coupled with his game feel/vision, has often allowed his teammates, or himself, to be successful both in attack and in transition.
Additionally, Garland made further progress as a close-to-the-edge finisher during this recently concluded season for the Cavaliers, and while others’ injuries played a part in that, Garland eventually reached the free throw line further. during the third year.
That being said, even with the three, drives and his game being Garland’s key points, in general, in attack, I also think he will still use the midrange. And next season, I think that will again prove to be an effective counter for him, and he will still have to throw those looks sometimes to help him as a deep threat and a driver, but also as a passer.
The midrange will again be an effective counter for Garland in his upcoming fourth season with the Cavs.
As we touched on, Garland was very effective as a three-point shooter also in his third season, and that will always be a big part of his game. I don’t dispute that, and it doesn’t matter who’s on the floor with him in different lineups, we know what Garland provides in that area for Cleveland.
The same goes for Garland as a driver, both to score for himself and as a setter for others as a lob/pocket pass distributor and ball swing initiator in those instances. The garland had 2.4 assists on drives per contest this seasonby Second Spectrum, who was tied for third in the NBA, behind Luka Doncic and Dejounte Murray.
But as we mentioned a bit, I would still expect to see Garland use the midrange as a quality counter in his fourth season, to fit into his deep shooting, training and game. Garland has demonstrated solid pulling shooting abilities in his first two seasons, and more so in Year 2, and last season we saw more from him in Year 3.
As we expressed, Garland has knocked down 40.5% of his three pull attempts this season, at a frequency of 22.1%. It was impressive of him and illustrated further growth as a ball scorer.
Coupled with this, however, Garland also logged onto a robust 46.1% of his two-point pull-up attempts in 2021-22, on a frequency of 23.0%. His hesitation, use of overhead dribbling, in-n-outs and quickness allowed him to generate plenty of space for those shots, which he regularly knocked down.
It was great to see from him, and also when it comes to middle play like a counter, we know how Garland’s pick-and-roll floaters are always a constant threat, which pairs well with threats of lob of Jarrett Allen and Evan Mobley. Diddo for Moses Brown even a bit near the end of the season, and Brown could apparently have a case to be back next season/maybe longer on a team-friendly deal, we’ll have to see.
Anyway, while I’m not saying it’s bread and butter for him, hopefully with more threats on the ball next season for Cleveland back in the fold, the game of Garland’s midrange should again be an effective counter. He shot 49.7 percent from 10 to 16 feet and 45.6 percent from 16 feet at the three-point line in year three, and that was impressive.
Intermediate play isn’t necessarily the main focus of the games’ star point guards, but he’s a guy who still needs to use it from time to time.
And in Year 4, that will still help Garland throughout games to get going if needed, I imagine.