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Cavs Notes

NBA Draft: Another option for Cavs could be another point guard with top pick

  • Vanderbilt-Garland-Basketball

    Vanderbilt guard Darius Garland is shown Nov. 16 in a game against Alcorn State. He's a candidate to be drafted by the Cavaliers with the No. 5 pick Thursday.

    AP

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The Cavaliers drafted 6-foot-2 point guard Collin Sexton with the eighth pick in the 2018 NBA Draft.

They could take another 6-2 floor general with the No. 5 pick Thursday night.

Though Virginia forward De’Andre Hunter and Texas Tech shooting guard Jarrett Culver remain very much in the mix, Cleveland met in Los Angeles recently with Vanderbilt point guard Darius Garland.

North Carolina’s 6-5 Coby White, who can play point guard and shooting guard, also could be under consideration by the Cavs.

Considered by many to be the fourth-best player in the draft after Duke forward Zion Williamson, Murray State point guard Ja Morant and Duke shooting guard RJ Barrett, who are widely expected to be the top three picks, Garland played just 139 minutes over five games as a Vanderbilt freshman.

There were reports Tuesday that New York, which owns the third pick, met with Garland, but that was probably part of a backup plan in the unlikely event the Knicks trade down, because whatever team moved up to No. 3 almost assuredly would take Barrett.

The 19-year-old Garland, who tore the meniscus in his left knee in a game against Kent State, averaged 16.2 points, 3.8 rebounds and 2.6 assists for the Commodores, but had more turnovers (15) than assists (13) in his limited action.

Considered the best ballhandler in the draft and the owner of a great pull-up jumper, the extremely quick and shifty Garland shot .537 from the field, .478 on 3-pointers and .750 at the line. He is the son of former NBA point guard Winston Garland.

“I humbly say this: I think I’m the best (guard) in the draft,” Garland told ESPN. “I mean, I think I can do everything that an NBA team wants me to do.

“I think 10 years ago, everything was pass-first point guards, and now it’s evolved into more scoring guards. I also distribute the ball, as well. So I think I came around at the right time.”

Garland, who is represented by LeBron James friend and agent Rich Paul of Klutch Sports, appears to have recovered completely from his knee injury, so that’s probably not a big concern for the Cavs, who made Duke freshman Kyrie Irving, who appeared in just eight games for the Blue Devils, the No. 1 pick in 2011.

Of more concern is how Garland and Sexton would fare, especially defensively, if paired in the starting backcourt. Sexton struggled immensely on the defensive end while averaging 16.7 points, 2.9 rebounds and 3.0 assists as a rookie. Garland has a 6-5 wingspan, 8-1 standing reach and is considered a scrappy and willing defender, but he also has shortcomings in that area.

Portland has thrived with a starting backcourt of Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum, both 6-3, and Detroit won titles in 1989 and 1990 with Isiah Thomas (6-1) and Joe Dumars (6-3).

Having finished 19-63 last season, the Cavs could be of the mindset of simply taking the best player available at No. 5 and then sorting things out as they go.

There also could be concerns that Sexton might not be the long-term answer as the starting point guard, as the 20-year-old struggled to see the floor for much of last season. A legitimate scorer, he might be best suited for coming off the bench if the Cavs add a lot more talent and eventually become a team capable of advancing in the playoffs.

The Cavs’ pick at No. 5 will be dependent on what New Orleans does with the fourth choice. The Pelicans likely will choose among Hunter, Culver and Garland, but there’s also a chance they could trade the pick.

At 6-5, White would offer the Cavs more immediate defensive flexibility if paired in the backcourt with Sexton. The question is whether general manager Koby Altman likes him more than Garland — or Hunter or Culver.

White, who has a low release point on his jumper, averaged 16.1 points, 3.5 rebounds, 4.1 assists and 2.7 turnovers as a freshman. Easily identifiable by his wild hair, the 19-year-old shot .423 from the field, .353 on 3-pointers and .800 at the line.

Like Garland, White has an explosive first step and can score from anywhere on the floor. His decision-making needs to improve and he sometimes plays out of control, but that’s true of most young guards.

Contact Rick Noland at (330) 721-4061 or rnoland@medina-gazette.com. Follow him @RickNoland on Twitter.



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