Vanderbilt guard Darius Garland enters the draft as one of the biggest mysteries. After missing the majority of the year with a knee injury, nobody really knows how he looks against elite competition – though he looked utterly dominant against weaker teams when healthy.
Shooting an incredible 47.8% from deep and showing an impressive ability to pull up off the dribble and shoot from anywhere on the court, Darius Garland has incredible upside and has scouts envisioning a young Damian Lillard. With slick handles to go with his elite shooting, Garland is a walking bucket and a player whose scoring ability enables him to have a huge impact from the jump.
While his red flags keep him from likely landing in the top three picks of the draft, Garland’s upside could wind up being second to only superstar Zion Williamson.
Darius Garland NBA Draft Projection: Latest Mock Drafts
Both ESPN and Sports Illustrated’s latest NBA mock drafts have Darius Garland going off the board fifth to the Cleveland Cavaliers. While the mock drafts offer a slightly strange fit given that the Cavaliers took Collin Sexton last year, the Cavaliers simply need to get as many young assets as possible and worry about finding minutes in the rotation later.
Fit aside, Garland possesses what looks to be the highest upside in the draft outside of the big three in Williamson, Ja Morant, and RJ Barrett. A skilled shot creator, Garland has a game that is tailor-made for the NBA. However, questions regarding his sample size at the college level are valid given that he only appeared in five games. He never got to showcase his skillset against the athletic defenses of the SEC and it remains to be seen how he plays against higher level competition.
Darius Garland NBA Draft Projection: Best Team Fit
The Phoenix Suns are one ideal fit for Darius Garland. In desperate need of a point guard and picking sixth overall. While there is a good chance Garland is off the board by this point, should he fall to the Suns he would create an immediate must-watch backcourt with Devin Booker. While the defense might be a bit suspect, Garland’s on-ball prowess would free up Booker to do what he does best – get buckets. Garland would also get some heavy run immediately as the Suns are extremely thin at point guard and would have the opportunity to step into a low-pressure and high upside role as the second scoring option.
Another interesting option (that seems unlikely to happen) is the Grizzlies pulling the trigger early and grabbing Garland. The Grizzlies are in need for a point guard and while Ja Morant seems to be a better fit for the Grizzlies griding, physical scheme, Garland offers them an offensive dynamic they haven’t seen with Mike Conley running point. The Grizzlies have solid enough defense to potentially hide Garland and mitigate his negative impact on that side of the ball from the jump and it isn’t unrealistic to think that after some time in the system he could develop into a quality NBA level defender.