The 2019 NBA Draft has a few players with as many questions surrounding their draft potential, yet so much high praise at the same time. Darius Garland is polarizing in this way. For many, the young guard is an enigma. Sure, we know what his game is like, but after suffering a season-ending injury after just five games in the season, there isn’t much tape against good or great competition. Yet mock drafts have him as the first point guard to be taken after Ja Morant as a Top-5 pick.
Darius Garland nails a step-back to give Vanderbilt a 47-40 lead over Winthrop at the half. Highlights and more to come on the @wherald later tonight. Garland has 13 points and three assists. pic.twitter.com/Pts0KRL0ea
— Charles Pulliam (@cspulliam) November 7, 2018
Overall Offensive Threat
Darius Garland is one of those do-it-all type guys. There’s a reason why he is considered such a high pick without playing a competitive game since November 23, 2018. On offense, he is a really fast guard who can get to the hoop and score, or come away with a couple of free throws. If that isn’t going to work, he will use his handles to lull the defender to sleep and then pull up a jumper from mid-range or deep. In his very short stint at Vanderbilt, he was hitting 53.7% of his field goals and 47.8% of his shots from beyond the three-point line. He was by far the best player on Vanderbilt’s team last season.
By all accounts, his offensive game is solid. He can really do it all. He shot a respectable 75% from the free throw line in his five games at Vandy and probably could have improved upon that as the season went along. There are players that just have that something about them, and he is one of those players. Garland feels confident enough in his draft position that he didn’t even get MEASURED at the 2019 NBA Draft Combine.
Measurables and NBA Lineage
Although he did not go through measurements at the Draft Combine, we do know that Darius Garland stands about 6’2″ and about 175lb with a 6’5″ wingspan, thanks to the Nike Hoop Summit just about a year ago. Those measurements also showed that his standing reach was 8’1″. Those are all very respectable and typical measurables for an NBA point guard and of course could’ve increased on the 19-year-olds body. The length he has allows him to be a very annoying and scrappy defender to opposing teams. Expect him to put on some muscle and a little bit of weight to help him finish in traffic on the next level.
Darius Garland also has the added benefit of being the son of former NBA point guard, Winston Garland. His father, Winston, played for Missouri State in college and went on to be drafted in the 2nd Round of the 1987 NBA Draft to the Milwaukee Bucks. There are cases of players with NBA lineage that go on and become successful, and for Darius Garland, almost everyone expects him to be a better player than his dad, an eight-year veteran by the time he retired.
— Lakers Empire (@LakersEmpire) June 8, 2019
Darius Garland’s main weakness on the court would be on the defensive end. While he can be scrappy and cause some problems for low-end college players like Winthrop and Liberty, that may not translate on the next level. Defense is going to be a big point of emphasis for the young guard. After that, it comes down to his body and what he can do to make himself stronger and more prepared for the NBA as a whole. Then there is the big elephant in the room. . . he’s unproven! While he looked great in those few games at Vanderbilt, that is far from large sample size and any team drafting him really high in the 2019 NBA Draft Lottery knows it will be a gamble.
Cutting down on turnovers would be worthwhile as well. As the main ball handler in his short stint as a Commodore, he averaged 3 turnovers a game to just 2.6 assists a game. What isn’t a weakness though is being signed to Klutch Sports Group and working out with LeBron James leading up to the draft.
2019 NBA Draft Comparison: Eric Bledsoe
Darius Garland is a skinny Eric Bledsoe with a better shot. Especially coming out of college, their offensive capabilities are similar and they can both score from all levels, inside and out. Their college stats don’t line up exactly, but Bledsoe wasn’t the go-to man at Kentucky with John Wall, Demarcus Cousins, and Patric Patterson on the same team. Looking at how Bledsoe is used in the NBA today, a guard that can get inside the paint and score or distribute while also being relied on to hit a couple of deep range shots a game. There is no reason why Darius Garland couldn’t be an improved upon version of that.
Garland is going to be a more high volume three-point shooter because of how smooth and silky his jumper is. Also, he is probably going to go to a team high in the lottery that will need him to be a high volume offensive threat.