By David Boclair
A major trade has clouded the picture for Darius Garland in this week’s NBA Draft, but the former Brentwood Academy and Vanderbilt star has an undeniably clear sense of where he fits among this year’s other top prospects.
“I humbly say this, I think I’m the best (guard) in the draft,” Garland told ESPN over the weekend. “I mean, I think I can do everything that an NBA team wants me to do.”
Most analysts believed that the Los Angeles Lakers planned to select the 6-foot-2 point guard with the fourth overall pick. That selection, however, now belongs to the New Orleans Pelicans following a reported trade in which the Lakers gave up a package of players and picks, including No. 4 overall, to acquire center Anthony Davis.
ESPN reported that — prior to the deal — Garland conducted private workouts with the Lakers and the Cleveland Cavaliers. Cleveland currently has the No. 5 overall pick.
In four-plus games for Vanderbilt before he sustained a knee injury that prematurely ended his freshman season, Garland averaged a team-high 16.2 points per game as well as 3.8 rebounds and 2.6 assists. He made 53.7 percent of his shots.
“The game is going towards a pick-and-roll and a scoring point guard situation,” Garland said. “So, I think I can do both of those really well. Just choose my spots on the floor and be able to show off the dribble.”
The overwhelming belief among NBA draft analysts is that Murray State’s Ja Morant will be the first point guard selected in this year’s draft, which takes place Thursday (6 p.m., ESPN). Garland and North Carolina’s Coby White are expected to be taken among the top 10 overall as well.
“I think 10 years ago, everything was pass-first point guards, and now it’s evolved into more scoring guards,” Garland said. “I also distribute the ball, as well. So, I think I came around at the right time.”
Photo from Getty Images.