Big man Usman Garuba is an undersized center that has played the last few seasons for Real Madrid. At nineteen years old he has seen solid playing time against tough competition already. He played 18.7 minutes per game last year for Real Madrid, who went 34-2 in Liga ACB.
Garuba has played tough competition and performed well enough that he’s high on NBA Draft radars. Still, much of his draft stock relies on projecting how he will fit in the NBA and what skills he will develop in the coming years.
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Name: Usman Garuba
School: Real Madrid, Liga ACB
Weight: 225 lbs
Prototype: Defensive Anchor
Shot Blocking (13.5/15)
Garuba’s height is misleading as his 7’3” wingspan helps him make up for anything he lacks in size. He has great feel as a help-side defender and is excellent at forcing difficult shots when he doesn’t get to the ball. Displays great control of himself and his arms when he meets opponents near the rim and often sends away shots that no one is expecting. Tends to go up straight and let his length do the work bothering opponents shots.
Garuba uses that same length just discussed to be a menace on the boards. He is good at getting himself in a position to be able to fight for boards and can use his length to grab anything in his vicinity. Needs to bulk up some but plays close to the rim and often puts himself in good spots to hit the glass, especially on the offensive end.
Defensive Versatility (9.5/10)
Scouts are going to like a few things about Usman Garuba but what he could become on the defensive end will be atop the list. As an undersized center that makes up for it with great length, Garuba also is able to switch onto perimeter players with relative ease. He shows great awareness with his hands on the perimeter by getting to the ball when opponents don’t expect it.
Lateral Quickness (7.5/10)
The other part of his defensive ability that is so promising is the lateral quickness that allows him to switch onto guards and perimeter players. Few players the size of Garuba can stay with guards on the perimeter the way he can.
Post Defense (5.5/10)
Garuba needs to add some strength if he wants to be able to hold his own as a post defender in the NBA. With the game moving away from that area, though, his length and footspeed will allow him to defend most NBA big men successfully.
Garuba understands his role and strengths on the offensive end of the court. He tends to hang out around the rim waiting for easy passes from his guards or a shot attempt that he can grab off the glass if it doesn’t fall. A lot of dunks with authority as he moves toward the rim. When the dunk isn’t available, Garuba has shown promise using smooth moves and a soft touch to make sure he finishes the play one way or another.
Post Offense (4/10)
The soft-touch mentioned earlier helps boost this grade up a bit, but don’t mistake it for a post-game that should be featured. There’s promise that he can be respectable with a few post-ups per contest but Garuba needs a lot of work in terms of footwork and awareness out of the post.
Willing to shoot though not a particularly good shooter. Garuba put up 1.5 three-point attempts per game across all competition last season, converting on 31.5 percent of those shots. At times he shoots with the confidence that makes you think he can develop that long term. More often, he reminds you of the work still needing to be done on his shot.
Brings energy at the rim on both sides of the court. Can make the play that gets his team going on both defenses and offense and usually plays with a lot of effort on the floor.
One of the bigger knocks on Garuba entering the league is his assertiveness or lack thereof. He can show a lack of aggression at seemingly random moments when he should be making a massive impact on the floor. He will need to work on that as he enters the NBA.
Usman is an exciting player that could develop into an absolute defensive monster. His offensive game may never reach anywhere near the levels he is already at defensively but that isn’t an issue if the team drafting him understands the role he can thrive in. Usman Garuba can anchor a defense and if his shot develops enough can be a nice player on the offensive end as well.
He certainly needs to find the right landing spot because he needs time to both develop and a staff that can help him grow his game. It could be sometime in his rookie year when he starts making those eye-catching plays on the defensive end, though.
Final Grade (70.5/100): Mid to Late First Round Pick
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Main Image Credit: Embed from Getty Images