No. 1: Darius Garland
Even though Collin Sexton was undoubtedly the star of the show for Cleveland last season, most folks who followed the team closely raved about the improvement of Darius Garland after a pretty underwhelming rookie season.
Sure, Garland’s numbers last season weren’t as eye-popping as the other half of SexLand, but made improvements across the board nonetheless. He made huge leaps forward to finish with averages of 17.4 points, 6.1 assists, 1.2 steals, while shooting just a sliver under 40 percent from deep. And it looks like he grew a couple of inches, too.
Most casual NBA fans wouldn’t notice him much, but the former Vanderbilt University Commodore is finally commanding attention outside of Northeast Ohio. He even earned the approval and high praise from a three-time NBA Champion and two-time league MVP.
Per Jackie MacMullan on the Bill Simmons podcast:
"“I talked to Stephen Curry a couple of weeks ago, and I was asking him about young players that he may have reached out to, you know, and guess who he said? Darius Garland. He loves Darius Garland a lot. A lot, a lot, a lot. He thinks that kid is going to be a flat-out star.”"
Curry’s Golden State Warriors teammate Draymond Green also once placed the 21-year-old point guard among those “hardest to guard” in the NBA.
Garland, who landed in the 84th spot in ESPN’s NBArank, would greatly benefit from any mentorship from Curry, as well as from another prolific floor general in Cavs newcomer Ricky Rubio. Many believe he has the highest ceiling among the team’s guards.
Between his continuous growth and getting taken under the wing of some of the league’s great floor generals, expect Darius Garland’s stock to keep rising as he becomes one of the bonafide stars and the leader for the young Cavaliers.