The Cavs might have a new franchise player in Darius Garland
Incoming third-year point guard Darius Garland is quickly establishing himself as a leader for the Cleveland Cavaliers, and could very well become the new franchise player for the promising young Cavs team.
That wasn’t always apparent, given teammate Collin Sexton was already the new poster boy for Cleveland after being selected in the first draft post-LeBron James to join a returning Kevin Love and form the pillars for the new-age Cavaliers back in 2018.
While Sexton still remained as the undoubted star of the show through last season after serving as the team’s go-to scorer, not a few raved about Garland’s continuous development and potential ceiling.
After a pretty underwhelming rookie campaign, the former Vanderbilt University Commodore upped his averages to 17.4 points, 6.1 assists, and 1.2 steals, all while shooting just under 40 percent from deep. Sure, they might look a bit mediocre compared to the other half of Sexland, but those were marked improvements across the board nonetheless.
The 21-year-old even earned high praise from All-Stars from rival organizations. Two-time league MVP Stephen Curry thinks he is going to be ‘a flat-out star’, while his Golden State Warriors teammate Draymond Green placed him among those hardest to guard in the league.
Most people also seem to believe he has the highest ceiling among Cleveland’s guards and luckily, he isn’t going anywhere soon.
Darius Garland will remain a cornerstone for the Cavs
Perhaps most importantly, Garland’s name came up every time the word ‘leader’ gets thrown around during the recent media day availability. It proves that despite his young age, people within the organization believe he already possesses the leadership qualities necessary to steer the ship.
Any mentorship the 2019 fifth overall pick may receive from offseason acquisition Ricky Rubio would really help him make that leap, so long as he sticks to the prolific Spanish veteran floor general.
The most promising sign is his willingness to accept that role. According to incoming rookie Evan Mobley, Garland took the effort to immediately take him under his wing to help him adjust to a new life in Northeast Ohio.
Both players are now viewed as the new foundation pieces for the extended rebuild, making them virtually a lock for seasons to come. Per Chris Fedor of Cleveland.com:
"Sources maintain the Cavs don’t have any “untouchables.” However, prized rookie Evan Mobley and rising point guard Darius Garland are closest to that designation. The likelihood of either player being moved is incredibly low."
Any player movement involving members of the young core will likely happen only if it nets the Cavaliers an athlete of Ben Simmons’ caliber. But even if they stay put without making a trade, the core led by Garland, Evan Mobley, Collin Sexton, and Jarrett Allen may still provide the team several potential All-Star level talents.
As far as the face of the franchise goes, it could very well become Garland or any of the team’s rising stars, provided they go out and earn that distinction. It also doesn’t have to be exclusively one or the other–the more, the merrier, right?