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Cavs Future Series: Darius Garland

via Jonathan Bachman of Getty Images

Player Overview

Darius Garland is a 21-year-old, 6’1”, 192lbs point guard for the Cavs. He was drafted 5th overall in the 2019 NBA Draft. He still has another two seasons before becoming a restricted free agent. Garland averaged 17.4 points per game, which ranked 44th in the NBA. He also averaged 6.1 assists per game, which is 18th in the NBA. He averaged 2.4 rebounds, 3.0 turnovers, 1.2 steals, and 0.1 blocks per game. His assist to turnover ratio was 2.03, he had a 54.7% true shooting percentage, and a -0.76 Real Plus/Minus, according to cleaningtheglass’s metrics, which factor out garbage time. His real plus/minus ranks 40th among point guards, and 208th among all active players. His offensive real plus/minus was -0.05, which is 55th among point guards, and 210th overall. His defensive real plus/minus was -0.71, which is 36th among point guards, and 225th overall. Cleaningtheglass.com has Garland accounting for 2.09 wins, which was 36th among point guards, and 151st overall. In FiveThirtyEight’s RAPTOR metric, Garland finished at -1.3, which is 55th among point guards, and 207th overall. His offensive RAPTOR was 0.2, which was 46th among point guards, and 122nd overall. In defensive RAPTOR, he finished at -1.5, which was 55th among point guards and 240th overall. They rated him as 1.3 wins above replacement, which is 53rd among point guards, and 191st overall. He ranked 10.1 in nba.com’s Player Impact Estimate (PIE), which ranks 68th among guards and 166th overall. He had a player efficiency rating (PER) of 14.24 according to ESPN’s calculations of the stat, which was 33rd among qualified point guards and 175th among all qualified players. That has increased from 8.54 his rookie season. PIE has defensive metrics in it, so Garland ranks higher in PER, a metric that does not. Cleaningtheglass.com has Garland’s usage rating increasing from 21.6% his rookie season, to 27% this past season. He moved exclusively into a point guard designation from a previous combo guard designation. His points per shot attempt have made a significant increase from 0.983 to 1.096, which moves him from 17th percentile to 50th percentile. According to nbcsportsedge.com, Sexton attempted 14.9 field goals per game, 4.9 of which were three-pointers. He shot 45.1% from the field, and 39.5% from three. Last season, he shot 40.1% from the field, and 35.5% from three. Both numbers witnessed a massive increase.


According to cleaningtheglass.com’s shooting breakdowns, Garland takes 29% of his shots at the rim, which is the 55th percentile. That has increased from 23% as a rookie, which ranked in the 29th percentile. He makes 57% of those shots (50th percentile), which is a massive increase from his rookie season where he only makes 42% of those shots (3rd percentile). His mid-range shooting makes up 39% of his shots, which is up from 37%. Ideally, that would go down to increase efficiency. However, the breakdown of where those shots occur is beneficial. Of that 30%, around 8% of it is from over 14 feet, which is down from 13% despite an overall increase in mid-range jumpers. Garland shoots mid-range jumpers at a clip that ranks him in the 66th percentile, with short mid-range jumpers ranking in the 75th percentile and long mid-range jumpers ranking in the 39th percentile, down from the 59th percentile. He is fairly efficient on short mid-range jumpers, making 43% of them, even though that has decreased from 47% the previous season. That is a decrease from the 88th to 64th percentile. He is less efficient on long mid-range jumpers, shooting just 39% on them, which is 41st percentile, despite a 5% increase in efficiency from his rookie year. In total, he shoots 42% on all mid-range jumpers, which is 61st percentile among point guards. 32% of his shots (39th percentile) were from three. 6% were from the corner (55th percentile), and 26% were on above-the-break 3-pointers (41st percentile). His corner three percentage has gone down, which is both a good and a bad thing for his long-term development. Ideally, a player will take a large number of corner threes given that they are an easier shot than above-the-break threes. However, above-the-break threes are self-created at a high rate. Garland taking more self-created shots while still scoring at an effective rate is a positive for his long-term development, but it would be beneficial to maintain a higher percentage of corner threes to further help his efficiency. He was assisted on 42% of his total shots, which was down from 45%. That is a decrease from the 68th percentile to the 36th percentile. The frequency of which his shots at the rim were assisted increased from 21% to 31%, which went from the 86th to the 45th percentile. This generally means an improved ability to make the right cuts, which is a good future indicator for his ability to play off-ball. However, as an on-ball creator, a decrease in assisted at rim shots would not be bad, as it would mean increased self-creation off of drives and pick and rolls. He was assisted on 31% of his mid-range jumpers, up from 30% as a rookie. He was assisted on 71% of his three-pointers, down from 76%, which ranks in the 50th percentile, down from the 64th percentile. Garland was fouled on 5.4% of his shots, up from 4.2%, although that still only ranks in the 25th percentile. He finished the shot for an and-one on 20.5% of those fouls, up from 17.2%. That puts him in the 52nd percentile. He also drew non-shooting fouls on 2% of the team’s total plays, however, which ranks in the 64th percentile. Garland needs to continue to improve at his finishing, as well as his three-point shooting, while decreasing the amount of mid-range jumpers taken, to further improve his shooting efficiency.


The Cavaliers averaged 92.2 points per 100 possessions in the half-court using cleaningtheglass.com’s garbage time filter when Garland was on the court. This was an increase from 89.8 the previous season. This was an increase from the 19th to the 25th percentile. Given the Cavs’ lack of creation, as well as scoring prowess, these numbers are expected to be low, but they are even lower than they should be. This is due to a lack of elite creation ability from Garland. His assist percentage has gone up, from 18% (41st percentile) to 29.8% (52nd percentile). His assist to usage ratio also rose, going from 0.83 (41st percentile) to 1.10 (48th percentile), while his turnover percentage fell from 16.5% (9th percentile) to 14.9% (23rd percentile). His playmaking is solid and has shown massive improvement, but he still has a lot of room to grow. He turns the ball over at an alarming rate, and still needs to improve on his efficiency, where he currently sits as an average playmaker for a point guard.


On defense, Garland has a long way to develop. He not only needs to improve on-ball but also off-ball. At only 6’1”, Garland is severely undersized. He also weighs just 192lbs, which is in the bottom quarter of all point guards. His fouling has increased, going from fouling on 2% to 2.4% of the team’s defensive possessions. His defensive rebounding has improved. His defensive rebounding percentage on field goals has increased from 4.8% as a rookie to 6.1%, although that is still in the 5th percentile. His defensive real plus/minus is poor at -0.71, and his steals and blocks are also very low at just 1.2 steals and 0.1 blocks. Defense is one of the worst aspects of his game.

Team Play

The team is significantly better with Garland on the floor than with him off, as should be expected from a starter, but it is exaggerated but the complete lack of an NBA-caliber backup point guard. The team’s plus/minus is 5.3 points higher with him on than off, which has increased from -0.4 last season. This ranks in the 81st percentile. The massive leap has a lot to do with losing a proficient backup, and less to do with a huge leap from Garland, although he did make a significant jump. The team’s points per one-hundred possessions are 2.8 points higher with Garland, which ranks in the 74th percentile. The team’s effective field goal percentage is 3.1% higher, which is in the 89th percentile. However, the Cavs have a 0.8% lower turnover rate with Garland off the floor, and a rebounding percentage of 0.5% higher. Their free throw rate also decreases by 0.7. The team has a 3.1% higher effective field goal percentage with Garland on the court. The percentage of shots at the rim decreases by 0.2%, and the number of threes decreases by -1.2%, while the amount of mid-range shots increases by 1.3%. The team sees a significant increase in half-court offense with Garland on the court. There is an increase in points per one-hundred possessions by 2.8 points. However, the percentage of plays that occur in the half-court decreased by 0.9%. The team is better without Garland when it comes to transition defense, seeing a decrease in points per one-hundred possessions by 1.2 points while seeing an increase in transition frequency by 1.3%. This is surprising given that both of these numbers were flipped his rookie season. They are better off steals, but only by 0.1 points per one-hundred possessions. Defensively, their points allowed per one-hundred possessions decreases by 2.5 points, which is in the 74th percentile, despite having an increase of 0.2% on opponents’ effective field goal percentage. An increased turnover rate by opponents of 1.2% as well as a decreased free throw rate can make up for the small increase in effective field goal percentage. Garland plays a large majority of his minutes with both Sexton and Okoro, making drawing conclusions from the team on/off splits difficult, as any one of those players could account for the differences.

Garland’s Role

Darius Garland is currently a borderline starting-caliber point guard but has shown growth throughout his short career thus far. Garland has major holes defensively and needs to improve as a playmaker. Shot selection could be improved as well. He is an effective scorer and has made significant strides to improve that part of his game. The playmaking is good enough if he is playing off-ball, but not if he is to play like a true point guard. The defensive concerns can only be abridged so far due to his small stature and lack of length. To be a quality starter, Garland can merely improve upon his weaknesses to make them less substantial. However, to be a great player, Garland must become an elite scorer. He can improve his efficiency as a scorer by drawing more fouls, and by increasing his percentage of shots at the rim and from three, both of which are average to below average. Garland can play off-ball if given a good playmaker next to him that could defend well.

Garland’s Future

Darius Garland’s best fit with the Cavaliers is either as a sixth man or as a starter, but that cannot be with Sexton. The pair is not good enough defensively, and also not good enough playmakers. To build a team around them, you would have to not only have elite defenders at the other three positions but also have wings that can create for both themselves and others. Given his massive leap from year one to year two, it would be ideal to be able to see how much Garland can improve going into this upcoming season. However, depending on how the draft falls ahead of them, and how they feel about the prospects, they could end up drafting his replacement. Garland could fit well with Green, as that gives a similar fit offensively with improved defense as compared to Garland with Sexton. Garland would also fit well with Cunningham if the Cavs were to trade up to #1 for him. They would have more length at guard, as well as increased playmaking and improved three-point shooting, giving the possibility of filling both of the weaknesses of the Garland and Sexton combination. Suggs would most likely be a replacement for Garland, moving Garland into a sixth-man role in the future. If they pick one of the other three players, the Garland and Sexton combination could continue, and it would give the Cavs one of the pieces needed to make the combination work. However, they would still need to hit on two more players to make it work. Mobley and Kuminga have the potential to be good defensively, which would be needed with that backcourt. They also provide a lot as individual scorers, and each has the potential to be able to create their shot. Barnes has more concerns as a scorer but fills the need for defense and playmaking around that backcourt. The only selection that would definitively affect Garland would be Suggs, and that seems to be the least likely selection to occur.

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Cavs Future Series: Collin Sexton

(Photo by Erik Drost)

Player Overview

Collin Sexton is a 22-year-old, 6’1.5”, 183lbs combo guard for the Cavs. He was drafted 8th overall in the 2018 NBA Draft as the pick obtained from the Nets via the Celtics as part of the Kyrie Irving trade. He will become a restricted free agent following the upcoming season. Sexton averaged 24.3 points per game, which ranked 18th in the NBA. He also averaged 4.4 assists per game, which was 44th in the NBA. He averaged 3.1 rebounds, 2.8 turnovers, 1.0 steals, and 0.2 blocks per game. His assist to turnover ratio was 1.57, he had a 57.3% true shooting percentage, and a -9.2 net rating. He ranked 106th in nba.com‘s Player Impact Estimate (PIE) at 11.5. He had a player efficiency rating (PER) of 18.06 which ranks 54th according to espn.com. His PER has increased from 12.10 his rookie year. PIE has defensive metrics in it while PER does not, which is why Sexton, a player who is effective offensively but struggles defensively, is rated higher by PER than by PIE.
cleaningtheglass.com has Sexton’s usage rating increasing from 25.6% his rookie season to 29.6% this past season, with increased points per shot attempt as well, from 1.026 to 1.156, which is 33rd to 71st percentile among combo guards. According to nbcsportsedge.com, Sexton attempted 18.4 field goals per game, 4.4 of which were threes, shooting 47.5% from the field and 37.1% from three. In his career, he is shooting 45.8% from the field and 38.5% from three. Given his decent three-point percentage, a higher field goal percentage would be expected.


Cleaningtheglass.com gives Sexton’s shooting breakdowns. Sexton makes 61% of his shots at the rim, which makes up 34% of his shots taken, which are 64th and 83rd percentile respectively. Sexton was assisted on 55% of his shots at the rim, which is just the 25th percentile among combo guards, meaning he is shooting an above-average finisher while creating an above-average amount of those shots himself. Sexton makes 44% of his shots from mid-range, which is 64th percentile, but shot 44% of his shots from there, which is 93rd percentile. Just 31% of those mid-range makes were assisted, which is 46th percentile, Generally, mid-range jumpers aren’t assisted on, and Sexton is no exception, which makes an already inefficient shot even more ineffective. This high percentage of shots taken is a large part of his lower field goal percentage. If he can decrease the frequency of mid-range jumpers, as well as go from above-average to good in terms of shooting efficiency, he can not only greatly increase his field goal percentage, but also his true shooting percentage. He makes 38.5% of his threes on his career, which ranks in the 50th percentile, but he is assisted on 68% of those, which is the 76th percentile. Given him being an average shooter for combo guards with most of his threes being assisted on, his three-point shot is also a key area for him to improve.


The Cavaliers average 90.3 points per 100 possessions in the half-court (16th percentile for combo guards), of which they were in 80.9% of the time (46th percentile) according to cleaningtheglass.com. The half-court offense will be lower for any Cavs player given the lack of surrounding talent, but it should be better than that, but it is representative of Sexton’s struggles with passing and creating for others, which after defense is the most needed area of improvement. In terms of his playmaking, his assist percentage has increased from 15.4% to 21.8%, which is a jump from the 4th percentile to the 64th percentile. This is a massive jump and shows promise going forward. His assist to usage rate has also increased from 0.6 to 0.74 despite a significant increase in usage. His turnover rate has slightly decreased, going from 12.3% to 11.7%, both of which are middle of the road.


Defensively, Sexton is still not a proficient on-ball defender. He does have the length necessary despite only being 6’1.5”, given his 6’7.25” wingspan and an 8’2.5” standing reach. The +5.75” wingspan helps with getting into passing lanes, and the standing reach is below average but still should be enough to contest shots decently well for a guard. It is definitely on the lower end, but there are guards with even shorter standing reaches that can be proficient defensively.

Sexton’s Role

Sexton is a starting-caliber player with the upside to be more. As it currently stands, his number one weakness is his defense, especially if he is to continue playing next to Garland. Coming out, his defensive upside was thought to be better than what he currently is playing at, and improvement is possible. His playmaking still needs to improve a good amount despite significant improvements already. This need could also be alleviated by putting him next to an elite playmaker. His shooting still needs improvement despite being above average. If he is to be a key player for a team’s offense, shooting threes off the dribble is a necessary component, and he currently mainly shoots catch and shoot. Again, if he is put with an elite playmaker, this would not be an issue given he would play mainly off-ball. His shot selection needs to improve as well. Cutting out the massive amount of mid-range pull-ups would be very beneficial in helping Sexton operate efficiently in the half-court. Sexton does well finishing despite his size. Sexton is solid at catch-and-shoot three-pointers and plays with a lot of effort.

Sexton’s Future

Sexton’s best fit is most likely not with Garland unless both can improve defensively and also as playmakers. Given Sexton’s impending restricted free agency after this next season, the Cavs need to make a decision sooner rather than later. They are in a great position to replace one of them, especially if Evan Mobley goes at 2 to the Rockets. That would leave both Jalen Suggs and Jalen Green on the board. Suggs could fit with either guard and would be best with Sexton given his off-ball ability, while Green does not fit as well with either, but does fit better with Garland. If they were to go in a different direction such as Scottie Barnes or Jonathan Kuminga, or if Evan Mobley were to still be on the board, they could begin to build the team around the backcourt pairing of Garland and Sexton. Barnes would add the playmaking that both guards lack while being a quality defender at multiple positions. Kuminga has perhaps the highest upside in the draft. Mobley can be a high-quality big man for the Cavs. The decision on what to make of Sexton isn’t easy but needs to be made before the draft. He provides a lot of positives, but still has work to do, but if he can improve upon his weaknesses could eventually be an All-Star caliber player. More likely than not, Sexton will be a long-time quality starter in the NBA and is very valuable. However, he is not the type of player who can be the main guy on a championship team, and therefore, if the Cavaliers believe in one of the guards in this draft as that type of player, they should be willing to move on. If the fit between their draftee and Sexton can work, he is worth keeping, and his value would be hard to get back in a trade package that would work well for the Cavaliers. If they draft Jalen Green, who would play shooting guard for the Cavs as well, they can move Sexton to the bench, but at that point trading him would be the best option given they have to pay him soon and he would still get plus-starter money. The decision should be to draft the best player available and deal with the consequences of the fit after the fact. If the Cavs believe that player to be anyone except for Jalen Green, there is no reason to get rid of a good player in Sexton. Sexton’s future with the Cavaliers is dependent on who they draft in the upcoming draft.