A rumor has the Cavs believing Darius Garland is their best player and not Collin Sexton.
The Cavs have a heck of a point guard in Darius Garland, at least that’s their belief. The second-year player huge leaps in his play in 2020-2021 so it’s not out of the realm to believe that his upside is higher than that of Collin Sexton. Cue Chris Fedor of Cleveland.com who’s reporting that the Cavs see Garland as the team’s best player.
"While the Cavs have a young core, I think there are legitimate questions about the ceiling. They need a focal point, someone to build around instead of with. As it stands, point guard Darius Garland is most important. After a lousy rookie season, he made big strides as a sophomore. He displayed the playmaking skill set that has many within the organization believing he’s already the team’s best player. Expectations are he will only get better with more confidence and experience."
Garland’s progress is nearly identical to Sexton’s in some areas, if not slightly higher.
The stats don’t lie
The easy argument for many people to screech about is the number of points Sexton puts up, in 2020-2021 he averaged just above 24 points per game. That’s a cute argument, but Sexton takes the most shots of anyone on the team, if Garland averaged 18 shots per game like Sexton, it’s very possible you’re looking at Garland at the same PPG as Sexton.
So just looking at points per game is kind of foolish. Remember when Ricky Davis averaged 21 points in Cleveland? It’s not hard to top 20 points a game on a bad team. Shawn Kemp did it in 1998-1999, Kyrie Irving put up up two back-to-back seasons of 20 points before LeBron James came back. So it’s not the end-all-be-all of stats. It’s not a sign you’re a good player, just that you’re the most used.
So how can we back up the idea that Garland is better than Sexton? Stat’s won’t work but advanced metrics will. Judging
Garland shoots more threes than Sexton (39% to 24%) and makes more threes than Sexton as well (again, 39% to this time 37%). Garland’s box plus-minus saw a bigger jump from year’s one to two than Sexton’s did (Garland improved by +4.0, Sexton by +2.9). Garland in just year two assisted on 31% of all points scored while he was on the court, while Sexton in year three, assisted on just 23%.
In year two Garland is already a better defender than Sexton is in year three (Garland -1.8/Sexton -1.9).
If you want to go even further, we can go look at their RAPTOR scores. Sexton popped a bit more on offense, scoring a +0.4, while Garland had a +0.1. Not great for either guy but barely a difference in production, especially considering that Sexton is a year ahead of Garland.
What about their defensive RAPTOR? Sexton, -2.8, while Garland was much better with a -1.4. Again, not great on their own but Garland has already surpassed Sexton as a defensive player.
If the Cavs are thinking about making a decision on their future, it seems likely that Garland will win out.