2021-22 Fantasy Basketball: Cleveland Cavaliers Guards

by Yeon Lee
2021-22 Fantasy Basketball: Cleveland Cavaliers Guards

Hey guys, welcome to my debut article here at Fantasy Six Pack. Let's take a look at the Cleveland Cavaliers guards and what we can expect from them during the 2021-22 Fantasy Basketball campaign.

Last season, the Collin Sexton and Darius Garland duo drew attention with their impressive stats, as well as the combination of their names.

Sexton put up 24.3 points, 3.1 rebounds, 4.4 assists playing next to Garland who had 17.4 points, 2.4 rebounds, 6.1 assists in the 2020-21 NBA season.

The interesting thing is, even though they had good numbers, it doesn't feel like the Cavaliers are going in the right way when you watch the games. And now Ricky Rubio joins the rotation!

Usually, it's wise to draft a leading point guard who plays for a bad team since they have a high usage rate. However, based on the way they play, it might not be right in this case.

2021-22 Fantasy Basketball: Cleveland Cavaliers Guards

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Playstyle

Let's break down Sexton's playstyle. His game is simple. He prefers to get in the mid-range area to take a pull-up jumper. When he doesn't have a ball, he stays outside the arc to get the ball.

From the charts, you can see that last year he was like to attempt a three-pointer with zero dribbles and less than two seconds touching the ball - aka catch and shoot. He also knocked down over 40% of those threes.

It sounds like there's nothing meaningful out of it. Well, we know his game is based on penetration. Let's take a look at how effective his game is.

Penetration

Sexton and Garland were both top 10 in the league in drives last season. Sexton's 9.7 drive points don't stand out, but it was more than two points better than Garland's 7.5. 58% of Collin's points came via drives while Darius was below 50%.

How about his passing? Among players with 10+ drives per game last year, Sexton's 7.1% assist rate was one of the lowest. His 5.9 average pass looks noticeably low compared to the other league-leading penetrators. However, with a healthy Kevin Love, a full season with Jarrett Allen and now Evan Mobley in town, you can expect both of those stats to start to creep up a bit.

However, early in this new NBA season, Sexton appears to be emerging as a finisher with Garland and Ricky Rubio doing more of the distributing. Something to keep an eye on moving forward.

The bottom line is Sexton loves to drive in but the outcome has been somewhat mediocre in the past.

Passing

If you dig into his passing skill more deeply, it doesn't look any better. He was the 10th player who received passes from the teammates the most (more than Lebron James!), but he barely passed it out to his teammate to help the flow of the ball movement.

The interesting thing is that a point guard usually passes the ball the most to a big man. However, Garland was the one who received the ball the most from him last season. You can vividly imagine two guards passing the ball to each other while your poor big man's demand for the ball gets completely ignored. It's not ideal.

As mentioned above, with the upgrades to the frontcourt this season, all of the Cavaliers' guards should have better passing and assist numbers. Let's not forget that Lauri Markkanen was acquired this offseason and is a good shooter in his own right as well, providing the three guards with yet another outlet!

How about Garland?

If you look at the passing chart above, you can see Garland showed slightly better passing skills than Sexton last season. However, considering the possession he was given, the outcome wasn't enough for him to take over the main ball handler role just yet. He received the ball the 10th most, but his assist production was below 20th amongst starting point guards in NBA last season.

The main issue was a lack of court vision. He rarely passed to teammates not named Collin Sexton. However, in his season debut, Garland did a much better job spreading the ball between teammates, leaning heavily on Mobley, Markkanen and Allen. This is a step in the right direction for Garland who will turn just 22 years old in January. He recorded 12 assists en route to a 13 point double-double, playing 32 minutes in his first game this season.

Conclusion

Now, we know Garland can't be an alternative for Sexton. The dilemma is that they both are the epitome of an undersized penetrating point guard without plus defensive and passing skills. For Fantasy purposes, as long as they can score, no one cares. However, since they both show they can't run the half-court set, or transition offense as expected, their playing time might not be guaranteed.

Ricky Rubio's existence is now more meaningful for Fantasy managers. Will J. B. Bickerstaff have Sexton and Garland on the floor at the same time to close out close games?

Someone has to lead the offense, but the advanced statistics tell us Sexton is rather a bench scorer type than a true ace on a rebuilding team.

I expect Ricky Rubio to have more volume going forward since he's a proven floor general throughout his career. Sexton and Garland are still young and have immense potential, but not as big as Cleveland fans hoped when the duo was selected in the back-to-back NBA Drafts.


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