As the Cavs start the season, one thing comes to mind for Cleveland fans. What will the Cavs starting lineup look like? Will it include Darius Garland?
In their three preseason losses, the Cavs trotted out a starting lineup consisting of Collin Sexton and Matthew Dellavedova in the backcourt, and Cedi Osman, Kevin Love and Tristan Thompson in the frontcourt. This core lineup typically stayed the same, except for a few minor tweaks.
While this lineup worked for the preseason, when teams are still trying to assess players and feel out chemistry, this may not be an ideal lineup in the regular season. If the Cavs want to try something different, they should turn to one of their latest additions: Darius Garland.
Over the summer, the Cavs drafted Garland with the fifth pick in the draft. The move came as a surprise to some, as the Cavs already have a small guard in Collin Sexton. It’s clear that the Cavs made their decision in hopes of creating a Damian Lillard/CJ McCollum-like backcourt.
Lillard and McCollum have been an exceptional backcourt for Portland, leading the Blazers to the Western Conference Finals. If Sexton and Garland come anything close to that duo (with time and experience of course), the Cavs may be onto something.
Garland played well in limited minutes during the preseason, as Cleveland played it safe with the rookie guard coming off of a meniscus injury.
In the Cavs final preseason game, Garland scored 16 points. He and Sexton played extended minutes together, giving fans a glimpse of what may happen in the regular season. Coach Jim Beilein clearly sees the potential for pairing the guards more as the season progresses.
Beilein discussed the possibility of placing Darius Garland in the starting lineup. He responded by saying he is fine with it, but Garland must earn it.
“If he’s able to practice enough and earn it, I have no qualms about that at all,” Beilein said. “But there’s a certain process you have to go through to be that starting point guard and whatever it’s going to take. We will get him in when we think it’s best for the team to win.”
When the Cavs tried to bring Sexton off the bench, and it simply didn’t work. Sexton was much more consistent as part of the starting lineup. If the Cavs want to avoid confidence problems with Garland, they should work him into the starting lineup as soon as possible.
While Garland and Sexton have a lot to learn, they can be crucial pieces in the Cavs plans to rebuild in the post-LeBron era. The Cavs do have veteran guards such Matthew Dellavedova and Brandon Knight to guide the young duo as the get more comfortable with the competition at the NBA level. If there is a point in a game where they need to shake things up, they can mix and match with Sexton and Knight or Garland and Dellavedova.
The Cavaliers clearly recognize the talent and potential that Garland brings to their backcourt. You simply don’t draft a player that high unless you think he’ll make an immediate impact.
Let the young man play. While there might be a few bumpy patches, it will be better in the long run.
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