The Cleveland Cavaliers may need to rethink how they use Darius Garland or if he’s part of the team’s future at all.
It turns out the concerns about pairing Donovan Mitchell and Darius Garland weren’t unfounded after all. It’s fair to say both of the All-Star guards failed the team and held them back from succeeding against the New York Knicks. Both men were just shooting junk at times, not moving the ball around, failing to drive to the rim, and just failing to execute.
The one thing that Mitchell can safely say he did, that Garland can’t say, is that he at least tried on defense. Jalen Brunson scored so much of his shooting from in close this series, it’s not even funny. Brunson shot 47% of his shots from the middle of the paint, usually shooting just around the five or six-foot mark. When he was in the 3′ to 10′ range, he shot 62%, oftentimes unguarded. From 10′ to 16′, he shot 45%. You can’t tell me, that a guy who’s not even an All-Star caliber level player should be owning opposing teams so easily.
That falls on Garland, who played him the second most out of anyone. If it were Damian Lillard or Steph Curry, ok, you’re going to get beat. But Brunson? No, that’s unacceptable. Clearly, Garland can’t play defense at the level the Cleveland Cavaliers need, and it’s time to think about shaking things up.
The Cleveland Cavaliers would do well to move Darius Garland to the bench or even trade him
I’m not against trading Darius Garland at this point, but also, the Cavs may be better off keeping Garland and moving him to the bench as the team’s sixth man. While this seems like heresy to so many basketball fans, that’s simply ego and conformity talking. Garland, like Manu Ginobili before him, could provide a much-needed offensive pop off the bench, and would allow the Cavs to not worry about his game-breaking defensive limitations as much.
This would also allow you to pair either Mitchell or Garland with Ricky Rubio, helping limit any defensive limitations the other man may have. It would also force the Cavs to actually run plays that aren’t just high screens.
Of course, having Garland moved to the bench as the team’s primary bench scorer, or being dealt in a mega trade for someone like Damian Lillard (or whoever) isn’t the only change that needs to be made.
The Cavs have a lot of major moves that need to be done before the start of the 2023-2024 season.