The Cleveland Cavaliers are currently ranked in 13th place in the Eastern Conference. Holding a 20-37 record with just 15 games left, it’s not likely they make the postseason this year. Since LeBron James and Kyrie Irving departed from the organization, the Cavs have been struggling to say the least.
This season might be over, but Cleveland at least has something to look forward to in the future. They certainly don’t have the worst roster in the league. The starting lineup is stacked with young talent that just needs time to develop. Collin Sexton, Darius Garland, Jarrett Allen, and Isaac Okoro are all young stars in the making.
Sexton might already be there, Allen is already a proven center, and Okoro is an exciting rookie. For Darius Garland though, he has the potential to put the Cavs back on in contention, as he has the tools to be the next Kyrie Irving.
Garland is wrapping up the second season of his young career. This season, he’s averaging 17.2 points, 6.1 assists, and 2.4 rebounds per game. In comparison, Irving’s first two seasons in the NBA were quite impressive as well, as he averaged 20.6 points, 5.7 assists, and 3.7 rebounds. Not only are they statistically similar, but their playing style is nearly identical.
Coming out of Vanderbilt, Garland entered the 2019 draft as one of the top prospects. He was a part of a draft class that included Zion Williamson, Ja Morant, and RJ Barrett. So far, most of the players in this rookie class have been performing well in the league, and Garland is just as good as the four players taken before.
Back when Kyrie Irving was drafted, he spent one year at Duke and hardly played at all as he was nursing an injury. Irving was still selected first overall by the Cavs back in 2011. Irving was clearly the best player entering the draft, as players like Klay Thompson, Kawhi Leonard, and Tobias Harris were all take in the double-digits.
They both entered the league as top prospects and both were selected by the Cavaliers. Additionally, they each had a hot start to their respective careers. Irving came out more involved in his first two seasons, but Garland is quickly catching up. Next year, don’t be surprised when Garland starts averaging over 20 points per game.
Similar to Irving, Garland is quick, has phenomenal handles, and can finish at the rim with the best of them. Cleveland drafted a superstar after selecting Irving back in 2011, and they did it again after taking Garland fifth overall eight years later.
The Cavs front office should feel good heading into the offseason. They’ve filled the roster with high-quality talent they can build upon. Depth is the key issue for Cleveland right now, but with time, they should be able to correct that problem. The combination between Garland and Sexton is sure to be a problem for opposing teams for years.
Kyrie Irving left Cleveland for the Boston Celtics back in 2017. The Cavs caught a stroke of luck by acquiring Darius Garland just two years later. He’s the perfect replacement they needed and he gives the franchise an incredibly bright future.