JB Bickerstaff: Darius Garland Offering Cavs ‘Perfect Mix’ of Leadership

INDEPENDENCE, Ohio — With all the talk about Donovan Mitchell and the newcomers, it can be easy to overlook Cavaliers point guard Darius Garland. Darius Garland passes in front of Trae Young

But he’s the man with the ball, the guy directing the offense, and the so-called head of the snake defensively. And coach J.B. Bickerstaff will tell you that without leadership, none of the above really matters.

Garland has it.

 “It’s natural. It’s based on his personality — and people want to be around him and gravitate to him,” Bickerstaff said. “It’s difficult to put that into descriptive terms, but he just has a magnetism to him because people know he is trustworthy and selfless.

“They are willing to go the extra mile and they are willing to follow him based on who he is. What we have seen so far is his voice is growing even more now in just these past couple days. Add that on top of his natural charisma and you have the perfect mix for the type of leadership you’re looking for.”

Garland, 23, averaged 21.6 points, 7.8 assists and shot 41 percent on 3-pointers. He seems more comfortable in his role next to Mitchell, perhaps leading to a decrease in turnovers this season. The Cavs know that’s a must, not just for Garland, but everyone.

“When you play fast mistakes are gonna happen,” Garland said. “When we try to be aggressive, try to get downhill, try to make the right pass, and there happens to be a turnover, I think we’ll take those. But unforced turnovers or throwing the ball to the other team we are (trying to eliminate).”

At the other end, Bickerstaff is giving Garland even more responsibility. After all, it’s the point guard’s job to slow the other team’s primary ballhandler.

“You watch what Darius has done and how he has grown and he has been more than capable of handling those matchups,” Bickerstaff said. “Not to name names but we have challenged him multiple times and put him on other teams’ best players, who might not have been at the point guard position — or have been at the point guard position who may get more attention or acclaim than he has gotten — and he has done a really good job. We have no fear of putting guys out there who just guard their position.”

In other words, the Cavs’ success is based on Mitchell’s greatness, Evan Mobley‘s continued rise, how the newcomers fit in, and many other factors. But it all starts with Garland.

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