Darius Garland Gearing For Breakout Season After Team USA Experience
The Cleveland Cavaliers are reaching a stage in the rebuild where they need to start seeing results. For Darius Garland, this means year three in the NBA must be his most effective one yet. Thankfully, his experience with Team USA should help him make a leap in development.
Garland was named a member of the Men’s Basketball Select Team earlier this month. Roughly a week later -- Garland received a promotion to compete with the International Team during their pre-Olympic exhibition games. A few impressive workouts and scrimmages, combined with the fact that stars like Khris Middleton and Devin Booker were preoccupied with the NBA Finals, led to Garland getting the nod to play with the big boys.
How'd Darius Do?
His introduction to Olympic basketball was a shock. As reported by Cleveland.com, Garland wasn’t expecting to compete in Las Vegas -- and he nearly turned down the offer. Instead, however, Garland decided to suit up and take advantage of the special opportunity in front of him.
Garland’s first game was a bit underwhelming. He played just six minutes, made his only shot and dished one assist as Team USA was upset by Nigeria in a 90-87 loss. Two days later, DG was even more reserved to the bench, appearing on the court for a minor three minutes in another Team USA loss.
Finally, as the squad finally reclaimed some pride in a blowout win over Argentina, Garland was granted more playing time as USA enjoyed a healthy lead for much of the exhibition. DG cracked 10 minutes of playing time, attempted seven shots and threw a knifty no-look dime to Draymond Green.
I’d be lying if I said Garland didn’t look out of place. He rushed a few of his shots and mostly appeared to be an eager kid playing on a big stage for the first time. Nonetheless, he slowly eased into the moment and showed the world that he belongs as one of the most promising young players in basketball.
Taking The Next Steps Starts In Olympics
This is a good sign, as history has been kind to Team USA Select Team standouts. Take the last two Olympics for example, which featured the likes of Devin Booker, Malcolm Brodgon, Zach LaVine and D’Angelo Russel in 2016, with Kyrie Irving, John Wall, Klay Thompson and Kawhi Leonard acting as standouts on the 2012 team.
I’m not saying Garland is going to take a massive leap into superstardom next season -- but we should expect him to come out the gates swinging. A fair comparison is likely to D-Lo, who broke out as an All-Star in 2018-19. This type of jump is something we can hope to see from Garland in the next two years.
Garland has already begun to take steps towards reaching his potential. He finished his sophomore season averaging 17.4 points and 6.1 assists per game -- and rattled off a 12-game stretch of 23.1 points and 7.6 assists before injury cut his season short.
What's Next For Garland?
The Cavaliers have placed a lot of faith in their young, shifty shot creator. Garland’s natural ability to get to his spots and generate quality looks is something that will bode well for him in the modern NBA. He’s only a step away from being a star if he can begin to shoot 3-pointers at a higher volume without sacrificing efficiency.
Sadly, Garland will not be traveling to Tokyo as Team USA has elected to take JaVale McGee and Keldon Johnson instead. Even so, his brief time on the International Team confirmed that the rest of the NBA sees potential in Garland. All that is left now is for Garland to reach his ceiling.
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