New York Knicks: RJ Barrett’s top five challengers for NBA Rookie of the Year

(Photo by Ryan McGilloway/NBAE via Getty Images)
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(Photo by Sarah Stier/Getty Images)
(Photo by Sarah Stier/Getty Images) /

3. Darius Garland

The Cleveland Cavaliers’ selection of another point guard was curious. Collin Sexton is not a perfect player, and this team is years from sniffing the playoffs; maybe more so than the New York Knicks. Pieces at other positions were available, however, if the front office wanted to play by need.

Instead, drafting Darius Garland gave Cleveland a look reminiscent to the Portland Trail Blazers, who have two smaller guards in Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum. Years into that experiment, it’s safe to say it worked.

Rekindling that with a new pair of players is another story, as it depends on how Garland and Sexton work together. Even if it does not pan out down the road, Year One could still highlight the Rookie of the Year and become a challenge to the New York Knicks’ RJ Barrett.

Outside of Sexton and Kevin Love, who may not play for the Cavs forever, that roster is devoid of talent capable of leading that roster, so offensive opportunities will last from Game 1 to 82. That is a gift for Garland, who can shine, boost his resume and play towards that first, big payday in two years.

Those big numbers will challenge anyone competing for Rookie of the Year. Whether it is 12-17 points per game on 45 percent shooting, with a few assists and rebounds per game or something in that ballpark, it will put him into the conversation. As long as it happens efficiently, he will have a stake in the final call for rookies next spring.

Cleveland will not be competitive, but that does not matter. If Garland posts the necessary numbers, he will be a factor in this race, and there is every avenue for that to happen in 2019-20.