Luka Garza enters the 2021 NBA Draft with a resume loaded with awards, accolades and production from his four-year collegiate career at Iowa. He won the 2020-21 AP Player of the Year Award after dominating for the Hawkeyes in his senior season. Garza was among the best players at the college level all year and many considered him the best college basketball player for all of his senior season. Now, his focus shifts to the NBA game where things are much different for a player with his skillset.
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Name: Luka Garza
Weight: 265 lbs
Prototype: Offensive Minded Center
Post Offense (6.5/10)
Garza is a big, strong center that is not afraid to use his body to his advantage in the low post. That led to him dominating most college big men down low because they simply couldn’t slow him down. His arsenal of low post moves is better than most bigs entering the league but they’re going to be far less effective against NBA centers. Garza will be able to dominate undersized bigs close to the rim but without a significant size or strength advantage, he loses his greatest strength.
Garza displayed the ability to be a knockdown shooter in his senior year with the Hawkeyes. His rhythm is smooth and natural and if he has space he is able to knock them down. There’s room for growth with shot selection though that could be in part due to what the Hawkeyes needed him to do. Garza shot 44 percent from behind the arc in his senior season.
Pick and Roll Offense (7.5/10)
Garza uses his big body to set good screens that give the ball handler space to operate. He is a threat when rolling to the rim as well as working the pick and pop game. Due to his size, Garza is an easy target to find when rolling. His hands are good and he is able to quickly find the rim and finish near the basket. Improvement can be made when popping as a shooter. Tends to not get himself set when he has time to.
Post Defense (5.5/10)
The size and strength Garza possesses are a big part of what he can do defensively. He won’t get pushed around near the basket and understands how to avoid bad foul when defending in the post. The lack of athleticism he possesses can be exposed against more athletic opponents. Can and will be beat to the rim and will struggle to contest longer offensive players.
Rim Protection (4.5/10)
The lack of athleticism and burst Garza has limits his rim-protecting ability. While he has the size to alter shots at the rim when in position, he is limited in what he can do against high-level athletes. Inability to cover ground quickly limits what he can do as a help defender.
Pick and Roll Defense (2/10)
Garza will be an absolute liability in the pick and roll defensively. He can’t switch onto perimeter players under any circumstances. Additionally, NBA-level point guards will pick him apart when he is in drop coverage. Can get burned by guards and can’t recover to contest shots for whichever player he gives more space.
Garza is not a high-end athlete which is a big part of why he was a four-year player at Iowa. Although he lacks the typical athletic traits most teams want in today’s NBA, Garza will hustle and do his best with the athleticism he has. That will need to continue at the NBA level.
Garza was a strong rebounder most nights in college which led to him averaging 9.8 rebounds per game as a junior. He followed that up with 8.7 per game as a senior. Had games where he disappeared on the glass but to an extent that can be answered by the flow of those games. Strong enough to hold his own boxing out but needs to establish his position early in the shot attempt.
Garza understands the game and seems to know what his strengths are and how he can utilize them. Questionable shot selection at times alongside questionable decisions in general. Overall his basketball intelligence is one of the tools that can be relied on transferring over to the NBA.
Displays the ability to make all the passes but doesn’t make them consistently. Tunnel vision when in a rhythm offensively can hurt the offense and forced passes when not confident can cost possessions. Averaged 1.4 turnovers per game in college as opposed to 1.2 assists per game.
NBA Readiness (3.5/5)
Garza is one of the more NBA-ready prospects that is going to go in the range he is expected to land. His strengths translate pretty well from college to the NBA and a team that has a plan for him can get productive minutes from him sooner than later. Additionally, his weaknesses are things that are rarely able to be improved on which makes his readiness more important than his potential.
Garza was a dominant college basketball player that should be a solid to good NBA player. He has a skill set that is useful in the NBA situationally and should be able to create mismatches against certain opponents from day one in the league. A role off the bench as a scoring center that doesn’t necessarily need to play every night seems perfect for the big man.
He will be a liability on defense that opponents will pick on when he is on the court. Still, his offensive talent and ability to provide an increasingly less common set of skills will make him worth selecting in the 2021 NBA Draft.
Player Grade: (57/100): Late Second Round Pick
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