PG Collin Sexton and SG Darius Garland, the former eighth and fifth picks in the NBA Draft, who many thought wouldn’t play well together, have played amazingly in the first two games of the season, beating the Charlotte Hornets and Detroit Pistons. The team and players who many thought would disappoint and finish as one of the worst teams in the league have exceeded all expectations this opening week.
The duo has excelled all over the stat sheet. They have combined for about 102 points, 26 assists, 15 rebounds, six steals, on 40/66 shooting. These two games aren’t just two lucky performances, it’s player development on full-throttle.
Sexton had no fear shooting, taking 16 shots and making nine of them in the first game. His shot-making ability also opened up many opportunities for others. In the season opener, Sexton was able to drive to the hole early in the game, which opened up opportunities like SF Isaac Okoro’s monster dunk. On that play, Sexton drove into the lane, sucking defenders in and kicked it out to Okoro. Not only was Sexton not afraid to shoot, but he also knew when he had a teammate open for a better shot, which is something he needed work on last season.
In only his third season in the league, Sexton has gone from being a young guard, who teammates became disgruntled with early on, to a solid leader whose work ethic has improved his shooting, court vision and passing. This is not to say he is perfect. He has room to improve before he reaches his full potential, but he is making strides that will help him get the most out of his raw talent.
Then there’s the younger of the two, Darius Garland.
Garland has been all over the floor in the two games the Cavs have played. He has been the floor general the Cavs needed, racking up 18 assists, while also helping the bigs by grabbing 11 rebounds. This is all while putting up 43 points on 16/27 shooting.
Statistically, Garland was one of the worst players in the NBA last season. That isn’t a cause for concern as most young guards take time to develop. Players like PG Steph Curry and PG Trae Young, two of the best scorers in the league, both played miserably early on. Yet in just two games, Garland has shown improvement one year removed from that dreadful season.
One of the primary reasons Garland struggled last year was a lack of confidence. It was clear he was not confident driving to the hole or shooting threes. This was very visible in his shooting percentages, with Garland only shooting about 47% from within three feet of the basket. Now, the season where Garland stated his confidence is at an all-time high, he has been nearly perfect from the same area.
While it may not have happened as soon as Cavs fans had hoped, the enormous development by Sexon and Garland should get every Cavs fan excited for this season and many more to come.
Pesta, T. (2020). Collin Sexton and Darius Garland [Digital image]. Retrieved December 27, 2020, from https://hoopshabit.com/2020/11/05/cleveland-cavaliers-4-trades-sexton/