Cavs rookie Darius Garland is averaging 2.8 assists per game, which is actually the lowest for a team leader in the 24-second shot clock era.
Most of the lowest figures came before 1951, which is when the current rule was introduced. Since then, the previous-worst since 1968 was by Marcelo Huertas (3.4) on the Los Angeles Lakers in 2015-16 and Tony Parker on the San Antonio Spurs (3.5) in 2017-18.
To contextualize how bad it has been for Garland, who still manages to lead the Cavaliers in assists: The rookie has produced 2.3 assists per game in a set offense, per Synergy, which ranks No. 103 so far this season. His assists per game when running his team’s transition offense (0.5) ranks No. 120 as well.
Garland is averaging just 1.0 assist per 70 possessions to Kevin Love, which is quite a bit lower than the big man has received from teammates in previous years. Compare that to last season when Cleveland’s Cedi Osman had 1.7 assists per 70 to Love. The five-time All-Star also received more than three assists per 70 from LeBron James during their final two seasons together.
ESPN’s Zach Lowe recently wrote about how frustrating this has clearly been for the veteran big man, citing an intentional lane violation after just planting himself in the key (via The Lowe Post):
“He still stood there even as Brett Brown was on the court yelling for a three-second violation. And then as the coup de gras, he raised his hand to call for the ball and alert, on purpose I think, alert the referees to say: ‘That’s right. I’m still here.'”
Lowe believes that was his way of trying to signal to Garland and fellow young guard Collin Sexton that he wanted more touches.
Cleveland, overall, is passing at a fairly normal rate during the 2019-20 season. They are averaging 288.4 passes per game, which ranks 16th in the league.
HoopsHype’s Alberto de Roa contributed research to this report. Possession data is pulled from NBA Wowy.