Beilein, Cavaliers Practicing Patience with Garland

Sam Amico

INDEPENDENCE, Ohio -- Cavaliers coach John Beilein is taking a realistic approach with Darius Garland.

"He hardly played in college," Beilein said. "As a result, we need to help him understand that he has to take care of the ball, take good shots. He has great instincts for a point guard.”

Garland is 6-foot-2 and was drafted with the No. 5 overall pick. Beilein is right -- Garland doesn't have much experience. He's just 19-years old. He appeared in a mere five games last season as a freshman at Vanderbilt. A knee injury sidelined Garland for the rest of the season and summer league.

He's also missed time in training camp.

All of that can make time adapting to the NBA a difficult task.

“He won three state championships in high school," Beilein said. "He knows what winning habits look like. But this is different. He is playing against big-time guys.”

This isn't to say Garland is a complete stranger to pro basketball. His father, Winston Garland, was a guard in the NBA from 1987-95.

Ideally, Darius Garland will start next to Collin Sexton in the Cavs' backcourt. Sexton is also 6-2. In real life, that's pretty good. In the NBA, those are two small men lined up next to each other.

But Beilein has dreams of Sexton and Garland as starters, with both capable of handling the ball and creating offense. They're both young and the same height, but offer very different skills.

Sexton is more about speed and finding a way to get buckets, almost via sheer will. Garland is more of a smooth operator and natural shooter.

“He pulls me aside and tells me what to do," Garland said of Sexton. "I’m glad to have a point guard like him to help me.”

It's hard to know where the Cavs want to go this season. A starting five of Sexton, Kevin Love, Tristan Thompson, Cedi Osman and Garland isn't too bad -- if everyone can stay healthy and everything meshes. 

But those are two big question marks, especially when you consider that the combined age of Sexton and Garland (39) is only slightly older than, say, LeBron James (34).

Throw in the fact Beilein is a rookie coach and ... well, there will be a definite learning curve for this year's Cavs.

“It’s not easy," Beilein said. "We’ve just got to press on and try and grow.”