Height: 6’3” Weight: 173 Wingspan: 6’5” Age: 19 College: Vanderbilt Hometown: Brentwood, TN
Darius Garland is an elite shot creator and shooter, and maybe the most skilled player in the draft overall. He can help a team with shot creation, floor spacing, and drawing help. He can hurt a team because of his lack of length and strength defensively. He is an elite ball handler and shooter, with a great level of confidence to be a main shot creator on a team. Because his quickness and change of speeds he is near impossible to stay in front, and you also can’t sag off because how well he shoots, and how quick his release is. He needs to work on his vision and decision making to be an elite playmaker. He had more turnovers than assists in his small sample size this year. He has shown some flashes as a passer, but he needs to improve. Right now he is an elite scoring point guard.
Garlands primary play type will be as the Pick and Roll ball handler. Last year he was in the 47th percentile in Pick and Rolls including passes, but this is just because his teammates missed wide open jumpers. He was in the 92nd percentile in Pick and Rolls that didn’t include passes. He is one of, if not the best off the dribble shooter in the draft, so you can never go under on him. He is also very good at splitting ball screens. His change of speed is great, and his handles are on a string so he gets wherever he wants on the court. He’s shown flashes as a passer out of the Pick and Roll, but this needs to be improved if he wants to be an elite Pick and Roll player. Right now he is very good at it, but his passing holds him back from the elite level. He can get assists, but he turns the ball over too much, because he takes too many risks. I’m normally all for taking risks but how often Garland does is too much. Garland doesn’t need a ball screen to get in the paint. He is very tough to stay in front because of his elite handles and quickness, and the fact that you have to play all the way up on him, or else he will drain jumpers in your face. He can drive right, drive left, and hit jumpers which makes him a very tough 1 on 1 cover. Along with Morant he is the best shot creator in the Draft Class.
Garland can also play off the ball because of his elite shooting. This is valuable because he can play alongside another shot creator without being too ball dominant. He has smart shot selection overall even though he rushes sometimes. He takes way more threes than long twos which is important because of how much more efficient threes are. He was in the 99th percentile as a jump shooter last year, and although it was a small sample size I don’t see why it won’t continue. He also finished efficiently last year despite his lack of length. He is really creative and can use both hands, so I can see him becoming a very solid finisher for a guard. I would like to see Garland push the ball in transition more, he would be amazing in transition with his speed and skill set. I don’t know if it was his fault or his coaches scheme on why this didn’t happen in college. Whoever coaches him in the league should let him play really fast in transition. I’m sure some people worry about his injury, and him not being the same, but he is already back to full basketball activities so I don’t think it will be an issue
I have no doubt Garland will be an elite offensive weapon in the NBA, but defense is where I have worries about him. He can only guard one position, which is not good for the modern switchy NBA. He is not very strong at this point and sometimes gets bullied even by point guards. He is solid staying in front of the ball because of his quickness, but because of his lack of length and strength he needs to become elite at staying in front to be a solid defender. He needs to live in the weightroom to maximize his potential as a player. If he gets much stronger, could definitely be a good defender. He’s only 19, so it could happen.
Garland has a very high ceiling, and a pretty high floor as well. At worst he will be an elite scorer off the bench that can’t defend, like Jamal Crawford although they have different body types. I could see him being a primary shot creator on a team for the majority of his career, but not the best overall player on an elite team because of his defense. His ceiling if he becomes much stronger and a better defender is Damian Lillard. He has a similar skill set to Dame, But Dame is much stronger, and more explosive. It’s more likely that he stays the size he is, and is still an elite shot creator that is a borderline all star.