Darius Garland's floater is the next step in his breakout campaign

92.3 The Fan
92.3 The Fan

Entering the 2021-22 season, Cleveland Cavaliers guard Darius Garland was the top pick by NBA executives for a breakout season. In what has become a nightly occurrence, the third-year guard is proving them right.

The Vanderbilt product scored a game-high 26 points while dishing out 11 assists in the team’s 105-92 win ove the Magic on Saturday night.

Garland, 21, has really come into his own offensively, showcasing the ability to score in multiple ways as well as creating both in his dribbling and passing.

The additions of Cavaliers big men Jarrett Allen and Evan Mobley in the paint have allowed Garland to take the next step in his interior offensive game, with the threat of lobs for both opening Garland to utilize his floater.

“He keeps big guys on their toes because they don’t know what he’s going to do,” Cavaliers head coach J.B. Bickerstaff said following the win on Saturday. “I think he’s done a great job of being deceptive and putting guys in adverse positions because they don’t know what he’s going to do, if it’s going to float, lob, keep his dribble alive or make the [pass] out.”

With Garland stepping up his game, it makes life easier on Allen, who has been on the receiving end of many alley-oops from Garland throughout the season.

“It changes the game completely,” Allen said of Garland’s development in the paint this season. “They say the roller [in pick-and-rolls] has a lot of gravity and brings people to him, but Darius draws three guys in every time he goes to the paint. Even his floater, sometimes, I get confused if it’s a floater or a lob! It’s a good problem to have. He just does so well, whether it’s the pass out, the lob, the shot. He knows which option to pick every time.”

With Collin Sexton out for the season, a lot of offensive responsibility has fallen on his shoulders and Garland has clearly stepped up to the challenge, averaging 21.8 points and 6.5 assists since Sexton’s injury against the Knicks on November 7th.

The Young Grasshopper Returns

Cavaliers promising rookie Evan Mobley made his return to the lineup for the Cavaliers for the first time since injuring his elbow against the Boston Celtics on November 15th. It’s pretty safe to say that it was a success.

Mobley quietly had 13 points, nine rebounds, three assists, and a team-high four blocks. With the big man back in action, the rest of the lineup had the ability to play more freely on the defensive end of the court.

“It makes them feel safe,” Bickerstaff said after the game. “The combination of [Mobley] and Jarrett [Allen] are two of the best rim protectors in our league. When you have those guys back there, you feel a lot more comfortable on the ball and how aggressive you can be on the ball. It really helps our defense shrink the floor and try to speed teams up and keep them out of their comfort zones.”

The combination of Mobley, Allen, and fellow big man Lauri Markkanen adds plenty of length on the defensive end. Add in a premier on-ball defender like Cavaliers wing Isaac Okoro, and Bickerstaff and co. could have opponents locked down like Fort Knox.

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