Welcome to the debut of the Cleveland Cavaliers youth report. Moving forward, we will take a weekly look at the Cavs young core and provide a bit of a report card. What’s worked, what hasn’t, and highlight whichever player played best for the week.
Now that we’ve been through a quarter of the season, we have some feel for where the youth is at in their development. With that being said, let’s take a look at the past week for the Cavs youth:
Player of the week: Darius Garland
Stats this week: 16 PTS, 2.7 AST, 1.7 REB, 53.1 FG%, 62.5 3P%, 71.1 TS% in three games
Coming off the best performance of his career, it should be no surprise to see Garland get the player of the week nod.
Garland has shown an increase willingness to pull up from deep over his last nine games. Converting on 46.2 percent of his 5.8 attempts per game over that stretch. He clearly looks more comfortable and is getting in better game shape.
While he was effective as a scorer against the Magic, he turned the ball over eight times and had five turnovers the previous game against Brooklyn. Garland is capable of making some truly impressive passes and making advanced reads. However he seems to be struggling to gauge just how much ground NBA players are capable of covering defensively.
This shouldn’t be a surprise, as he didn’t really have an opportunity to even learn how much space college defenders can cover. But to see him respond with a six assist/one turnover game against the Milwaukee Bucks was incredibly encouraging.
As Garland continues to shoot with more confidence, it should help open up the other aspects of his game. When defenders start closing out more aggressively it should improve his ability to alter the defense and force breakdowns.
His performance against the Bucks provided a high watermark for his rookie season. As the year continues the important thing will be how many performances like this we see from Garland. As long as the bright flashes keep getting brighter and more frequent, that will matter a whole lot more than his season-long averages.
Stats this week: 18 PTS, 4.3 AST, 3.7 REB, 43.1 FG%, 33.1 3P%, 49.1 TS% in three games
To this point of the season, we haven’t seen the efficient scoring Sexton showed in the second half of last year. His outside shot has been shaky at times and he still struggles to finish around length on the interior.
That doesn’t mean he hasn’t shown growth this season. We’ve seen a dramatic uptick in his compete level on the defensive end and he’s shown an ability to blow up pick plays and get into passing lanes. He still has a long way to go before he could be considered a positive defender. But getting to uneven from one of the worst in the league is a nice first step.
Sexton had a more effective week than usual from a play making perspective. While there will be ebbs and flows to his assist totals throughout the season, it’s very unlikely that will ever be a strength of his game. What matters for Sexton is that he doesn’t stop the ball and makes quick decisions. Which for the most part he has this season.
If he can do that while providing scoring and defense it will be easy to find him a role moving forward with the team.
Stats this week: 16.3 PTS, 2 AST, 2.7 REB, 53.1 FG%, 40 3P%, 67.3 TS% in three games
Osman appears to have worked through his funk and is back to being a reliable rotation player for the Cavs. The team has emphasized getting him more touches and as a result he has been more engaged offensively.
There have still been more defensive lapses than you’d like to see from Osman, but he has shown growth since last season. It is a little surprising to see Osman’s play making go down with more touches this week, but having him perform in that role should never be a priority for the Cavs.
Kevin Porter Jr.
Stats this week: 3.7 PTS, 3.7 AST, 4 REB, 53.1 FG%, 0 3P%, 34.6 TS% in three games
Who’s got two thumbs and will need some time before he can be a consistent contributor on this team?
All jokes aside, Porter Jr. has been a pleasant surprise for the Cavs this season. He has boatloads of raw talent and has been further ahead of schedule than most people anticipated.
He plays team basketball, has good vision as a passer, and competes on defense. He fouls too much and the effectiveness of his jumper can come and go. But the flashes of what he can be far exceed his numbers and his ability to create looks for himself and others is intriguing.
Once the Cavs are fully healthy, it may give the team an opportunity to cut back on his minutes, work on his jumper and help the game slow down for him. But given his early season play, he’s unlikely to lose his spot in the rotation all together.