Just one year after LeBron James left the Cleveland Cavaliers for the second time, they found their new floor leader and potential franchise player in Darius Garland.
He was the fifth overall pick in the 2019 NBA Draft, and although he had a relatively quiet rookie season, averaging 12.3 points on 40.1 percent shooting and 3.9 assists per game, his potential was clear.
This past season, he started to become his best self, putting up an efficient 21.7 points and 8.6 assists a game while earning his first All-Star selection.
Garland may not be considered an elite point guard yet, but he is certainly on his way and getting close to that type of recognition.
Just a few days ago, he secured the bag when he agreed to a five-year max contract that will be worth at least nearly $200 million.
Cleveland Cavaliers All-Star guard Darius Garland has agreed on a five-year, $193M maximum designated rookie contract extension that could be worth as much as $231M, @KlutchSports CEO Rich Paul tells ESPN. It is the largest deal in franchise history.
— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) July 2, 2022
With their biggest franchise cornerstone in place, the Cavs can now look to the future with confidence while focusing their attention on putting together a championship-caliber roster around him.
Garland Could Be A Special Player
Several years ago, a year after James’ first departure, Cleveland had the good fortune of earning the first pick in the 2011 NBA Draft, which they used on Kyrie Irving.
Irving blossomed into a star almost right away, and by the time the Cavs won the 2016 NBA championship, it was clear that Irving was more than just a garden-variety star point guard.
It is starting to look like Garland may have similar potential.
No one knows for sure yet if he will develop elite ball-handling skills that are anywhere in the area of Irving’s or the penchant for hitting clutch shots that the North Jersey native has in spades.
But Garland’s best strength right now may be his passing.
In fact, some feel that he is not just a really good passer, but a truly elite one.
good morning, a reminder that darius garland’s passing is generational pic.twitter.com/kvCylQweNu
— Merrick (@MStorlie87) March 9, 2022
Darius Garland's passing is just marvelous pic.twitter.com/1pIxHnTesk
— Mark Schindler (@MG_Schindler) December 27, 2021
The fact that he averaged 8.6 assists per game is even more impressive when one considers the lack of 3-point shooters around him and the fact that Cleveland was one of the slowest paced teams in the NBA in 2022.
In fact, it was just 20th in fast-break points during the regular season.
If head coach J.B. Bickerstaff remakes the Cavs into more of a fast-breaking team moving forward, it could open the flood gates for Garland to develop faster and take better advantage of his passing talent.
Now It’s Time For The Cavs To Get Down To Business
Cleveland has some difficult decisions left to make this offseason.
It needs to decide whether to give guard Collin Sexton a new contract or package him in a potential sign-and-trade deal.
Sexton may not command as much money as once thought, but the Cavs have reportedly had some hesitation about starting him alongside Garland in the backcourt.
It would also help immensely if they end up acquiring a proven 3-and-D wing with length to help them corral the Eastern Conference’s many star forwards.
The Cavs and their fans seem to fully expect a trip to the playoffs next season, and with Garland locked up, the team now has a better sense of what its financial situation will look like moving forward, allowing it to achieve more clarity in terms of who it can go after this summer.
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