Statistically, Cavaliers rookie Darius Garland is the NBA’s worst player this season, but Chris Fedor of Cleveland.com believes it’s too early to write him off as a draft bust. The No. 5 pick ranks last in Win Shares, Value Over Replacement Player and ESPN’s Real Plus-Minus and was outshined by several players who were drafted much later.
However, Fedor notes that first-year guards on poor teams usually need time to grow into their games. Teammate Collin Sexton faced similar criticism during his rookie season, but showed significant improvement this year. Garland just turned 20 in January, and his college career was limited to four full games because of a knee injury. He had another procedure on the knee during the offseason that forced him to miss Summer League, then had a foot injury in training camp.
“The world is not patient. You guys are not patient,” Tristan Thompson said. “Lose 10 games in a row you think the season is ending. Everyone is like that. Everyone wants instant results. But life is not like that, especially in a team sport. … It’s a learning curve for everyone and as long as you handle your job and do what you’ve got to do every day the rest will follow and we’ll see.”
There’s more from Cleveland:
- The Cavs won’t have to make a long-term decision on the future of the Sexton-Garland backcourt until next summer, Fedor writes in a separate story. That’s when Sexton will be eligible for a rookie scale extension that would involve a significant financial investment. In the meantime, Fedor suggests Sexton, Garland and rookie Kevin Porter Jr. could all see starter’s minutes as Cleveland evaluates its young talent.
- The front office remains split on this year’s best prospect, but LaMelo Ball, Anthony Edwards and James Wiseman are at the top of the Cavaliers’ draft board, Fedor adds in the same piece. If the team doesn’t finish high enough in the lottery to get one of them, Israeli forward Deni Avdija could be the pick because he fills a need. GM Koby Altman and scouting director Brandon Weems both traveled overseas to watch Avdija play, and head coach J.B. Bickerstaff has several former players who have been teammates with Avdija.
- Jason Lloyd of The Athletic examines how Kevin Love emerged as the NBA’s leading spokesman on mental health issues. Love’s newest cause is calling attention to the lack of diverse therapists available to minorities.