This week in the notebook: Darius Garland, Dean Wade and health updates. If there’s a topic you’d like explored in a future week, leave a line below in the comments.
Darius Garland is a malleable shooter with room to grow
A big unanswered question about Darius Garland’s future centers around his ability to take deep three-pointers. He’s flashed willingness at times to pull up from a few feet behind the three-point, but it’s not a major part of his tool kit yet. However, he’s taking 3.1 attempts in the 25-29 feet range and is shooting 40.5% on those shots. (For context Blazers guard Damian Lillard makes this a big part of his game and takes 7.6 attempts per game in that range, shooting 39.6% on those attempts.)
If Garland can get somewhere close to that and still hits shots a decent clip, it’ll help Cleveland’s offense work. Spacing can get cramped depending on what lineups the Cavs throw out there. If he can become a threat that defenses feel like they have to step out on, it’ll open up the floor for everyone. In his career-high night against the Spurs, Garland showed a lot of this upside.
Garland, however, has also proven himself to be a versatile scorer. Per nba.com, he’s taking 2.4 a game on catch-and-shoot attempts vs. two a game on pull-ups. He’s making the former at a 43.4% clip and the latter at 36.4%. That’s a good sign for someone who should be able to fit and amplify whoever are the next young pieces the Cavs add. For instance: Garland’s a clean fit with either Cade Cunningham or Jalen Green if Cleveland nab either one on the draft this summer.
Dean Wade seems like a keeper
An essential roster-building concern for the Cavs now and going forward will be the edge of the roster. Because it cannot bank on attracting top-end talent in free agency, player development and finding players via the G League or that go undrafted. Dean Wade falls into the latter camp, having gone undrafted out of Kansas State partly due to injury concerns. (I asked him if he does anything significantly different now vs. in college a week or so ago on a media Zoom call and he said no. Funny how this can just work sometimes.)
Based on his first real NBA stint, Wade also seems like a useful NBA player. His stats aren’t eye-popping — he’s playing around 15 minutes a night for the year and is averaging 4.8 points and 2.9 rebounds per game. Those aren’t numbers that scream “rotation piece.”
But when you watch Wade, he moves well and is a fluid big who can run the floor well enough, tries on defense and most importantly, is a willing shooter. Almost any time he gets the ball and has an opening, he fires. Cleveland needs that from its bigs. Among all NBA bigs, he’s in the top 83% of three-point frequency. Take out corner three-pointers and he’s in the 94%, per Cleaning The Glass.
How good will Wade ultimately be? It’s unclear. Maybe he settles in a third or fourth big who plays more in a pinch. But he’s interesting and that’s a good find outside the normal ways teams nab useful pieces.
A few Cavs health updates
Larry Nance Jr., reported earlier this week, is out currently due to a mystery illness that caused him to lose 20 pounds. According to head coach J.B. Bickerstaff, Nance is “progressing,” but it’s unclear when he’ll be back. In this case, the hope would be that he can get back before returning. There’s nothing bigger than that.
Elsewhere, Kevin Love says he will remain on a minutes restriction through the weekend. Cleveland’s weekend slate includes a back-to-back, which will Love’s first since coming back. Right now, the plan seems to be for him to play in both games.
“The biggest thing for me now to feel like myself is just to get back in true game shape,” Love said this week. “That first quarter has kind of got me every single time ... not been able to open it up and run. As far as a percentage, I don’t quite feel like myself yet.”
Lastly, per Chris Fedor of cleveland.com, some Cavs players and coaches received COVID-19 vaccine doses in late March. It was not mandated by the team and some players did not get it. (No, we do not know who got it and who did not.) This, though, means that Cleveland joins a group of teams that has gotten the vaccine as it becomes more wildly available in the United States.