Jarrett Allen’s Frustrating Injury Has Helped Ignite a Ridiculous Darius Garland Run

There is a new king in Cleveland.

OK, that’s disrespectful to LeBron James, but Darius Garland is certainly making The Land his town. The entertaining Cleveland Cavaliers guard has been one of the NBA’s breakout players this year, and he has helped catapult the Cavs into the middle of the Eastern Conference playoff race.

However, injuries have held Cleveland back from its full potential all year, and a recent one to All-Star big man Jarrett Allen came at the wrong time.

But it hasn’t been a complete negative. Allen’s absence has also proved one thing: Darius Garland is becoming a superstar.

Jarrett Allen’s frustrating injury came at the wrong time

Cleveland Cavaliers stars Jarrett Allen and Darius Garland.
(L-R) Jarrett Allen and Darius Garland. | Nic Antaya/Getty Images; Jason Miller/Getty Images

The Cavaliers are essentially fighting for their playoff lives. Due to how strong the Eastern Conference is this season, their 41-31 record has them sitting in sixth place and just one game ahead of the seventh-place Toronto Raptors. The teams between No. 7–10 in the standings compete in the NBA Play-In Tournament, and the Cavs likely want to stay as far away from that as possible.

So, considering just how important this current stretch is to their season, it’s certainly disappointing to see All-Star big man Jarrett Allen out. 

Allen fractured his finger in a game against the Raptors on March 6. He is hoping to return before the playoffs.

All in all, Cleveland has done OK without its big man. Including the game he got hurt, the Cavs are 5-4 without him.

Darius Garland, though, has been on a tear.

Darius Garland is on a historic run for the Cavs

All year, the Cavs’ offense has consistently relied on three players. While it has other guys who can have big nights like Lauri Markkanen, the resurgent Kevin Love, and Caris LeVert, youngsters Darius Garland, Jarrett Allen, and Evan Mobley have been their three main weapons.

Since Allen — an All-Star with Garland this year — is down, the point guard has had to step up.

Darius is averaging 21.4 points and 8.6 assists this season. But in his last 10 games, he has recorded 25.7 points and 12.2 assists per game.

While those numbers are impressive on the surface, they are even more remarkable when considering his age.

According to Basketball Reference, Garland became the youngest player (22 years and 54 days old) to average at least 25.0 points and 12.0 assists during a 10-game stretch of a season. The only other players to accomplish the feat at 22 years old were Hall of Famers Oscar Robertson (22 years and 97 days) and Isiah Thomas (22 years and 294 days), and future Hall of Famer Chris Paul (22 years and 311 days).

That’s some impressive company to be associated with, and Garland can take this run and use it to help the Cavs make some noise in the playoffs.

Darius Garland can help the Cavs make noise in the playoffs

Darius Garland won’t need to do as much once Jarrett Allen returns to the lineup. But his confidence is already through the roof, so he can now carry this success into the playoffs.

When healthy, this Cavaliers team can compete with anybody. Garland is proving he’s a legit superstar, while the combination of Allen and Mobley might be one of the best frontcourt tandems in the league.

Cleveland is also a terrific defensive team. Its size with Allen, Mobley, and Lauri Markkanen — in addition to the play of a defensive star in Isaac Okoro — makes it difficult for opposing squads to score. That could become crucial when the defensive intensity goes up a notch in the postseason.

All in all, Darius Garland is on an impressive run right now. He has a chance to take the Cavs to some remarkable heights once Jarrett Allen and his imposing presence returns to the lineup.

Stats courtesy of Basketball Reference

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