Since the departure of LeBron James, the Cleveland Cavaliers have struggled to find their footing in the East. Without a star to build around, and a front office that appears lost and unsure, there is no sign that things will change anytime soon.
Still, with the rise of young stud Darius Garland has come new hope for the future of the franchise.
The 21-year-old, fresh off his sophomore season, is drawing a lot of attention from around the league, including from Golden State Warriors star Steph Curry.
“I talked to Steph Curry a couple weeks ago, and I was asking him about young players he might have reached out to and guess who he said?” Jackie MacMullan said on the Bill Ssimmons podcast. “Darius Garland, Darius Garland, he loves Darius Garland a lot, a lot, a lot. He thinks that kid is gonna be a flat-out star.”
Darius is already showing flashes of star potential. Through 54 games with the Cavs last season, he averaged 17.4 points, 6.1 assists, and 1.2 steals per game on 45% shooting.
So impressed by his performance in 2020, NBA executives have named Garland as the top breakout candidate for this upcoming season.
Garland, who was limited to 54 games last season, showed flashes of breakout potential in April when he averaged 20.5 points on 48 percent shooting overall and 38.5 percent from beyond the arc with 7.3 assists for the Cavaliers.
“In theory, you’re picking a younger player who hasn’t broken out yet because of some reason, whether it’s either injuries or team dynamics, and they still have to have untapped upside,” an NBA executive explained. “Garland checks those boxes.”
“I think Garland’s kind of gotten lost in the shuffle in terms of people knowing who he is because of Colin Sexton,” an NBA scout opined. “If he stays healthy, I like picking him.”
In the end, it's hard to say for certain what the future holds in store for Garland and the Cavs. But, based on the feelings of Curry and league executives, it sure seems like he's destined for greatness.