Darius Garland is expected by some to have a breakout year for the Cavs.
The Cavs need a big year from Darius Garland if they hope to even flirt with the playoffs in 2022. While he’s not the only player expected to take a leap forward this season, he is the one player that 15 NBA executives believe will in fact take that leap forward.
Hoops Hype conducted the poll that asked 15 executives who they thought would be the breakout player of the year and Garland ended up getting 24% of the vote. It’s certainly not unreasonable, he did have a solid season. Nothing noteworthy historically, nor did he do any one thing that made fans go wild, but he did have a solid year.
If he wants to be a breakout player, however, he’ll have to improve some things so he’s not just a “solid” player on a team.
These are the three things Darius Garland has to do in 2021-2022
Improve his defense
Size isn’t relevant when we’re talking defense. Patrick Beverly is 6’0 barely, if he is at all, and he’s one of the better defenders in the league. The excuse that Garland’s 6’1 and that’s why he can’t be good on defense is just that; an excuse. Don’t plant your feet so often, stay off your heels and get in front of the guy. You can’t be a defensive liability and be a mediocre scorer and expect people to think you’re the next coming of Chris Paul.
Take more three-point shots
Garland shot just under 40% from three in his second year, but he also shot fewer three-points than his rookie year. If he’s going to take that next step like some are suggesting, he has to be more aggressive behind the arc.
Work on drawing more fouls
Garland took the same amount of foul-shots as DeAndre Jordan and Jeff Green; that isn’t great. His teammate, Collin Sexton, shot three times as many. Garland needs to improve his positioning of 74th in the league in free throw attempts and get closer to Sexton’s rank of 12th. Why? Well, if Garland is going to improve and “breakout” he has to start scoring like an elite-level guard. Guys like Damian Lillard and James Harden make around 30% of their points per game from the free-throw line. Challenging people in the paint and drawing fouls is a thing that Garland has to do. He shoots fine from the line, 84%, so why not get some really easy points?