The Rockets chased Mo Bamba, but it’s Usman Garuba who deserves a chance to backup Alperen Sengun.
After only playing 24 games in his rookie season due to injuries, Usman Garuba is ready to take big strides for his upcoming sophomore year. Garuba only played 10 minutes per game, but he showcased his unique attributes of screening, rebounding, defending, and the ability to finish at the rim. Although the Houston Rockets missed out on Mo Bamba in free agency to the Orlando Magic, giving Garuba the backup center minutes could be ideal.
At 229 pounds, Garuba shows great strength inside the paint against opposing centers. He doesn’t allow his man to create space or get good positioning. Besides him having good interior defense, he also can defend his man on the perimeter. Garuba can become a great defensive hybrid player throughout his NBA career. While guarding one through five, he causes disruptions with his hands on switch defense, pick-and-roll, and hand-offs. Although Garuaba has a horrid 111.5 defensive rating, foul trouble caused short minutes, and Houston’s team defense was also awful, which affected his rating number.
Garuba can become anxious and rough when guarding opposing players. The game speed from Spain to the United States is much different. Inside his sophomore year, he’ll learn how to stay in front of his man without fouling. He has great lateral quickness that he showcased in Spain and is a versatile defender. At 6’8”, Garuba can create tough challenges for opposing players to not drive by him. Moving his feet is the biggest for him.
Garuba wingspan is 7’2”, which is perfect for trap and double-team defense on opposing teams’ players. Lionel Hollins, who just named the Rockets’ defensive coordinator, can position Garuba well on defense, so stops can be made throughout the game. Garuba is an athletic defender that can be an X-factor for the Rockets. He’ll be important on the defensive glass as a rebounder. The Rockets were last place in rebounding in the previous season. It’s important that the Rockets exhaust every rebounding effort out of Garuba. He recorded 14 total rebounds versus the Minnesota Timberwolves. It’s not easy blocking out Garuba.
On offense, Gaurba can be used a rim runner towards the basket. He understands the philosophy when to roll or slip the screen after creating contact. Garuba knows his surroundings on offense, meaning he understands when and where to cut towards the basket. He does a great job of finishing at the rim when it’s open to him. Garuba shot 43.2 percent from the field, which will be better for next season.
This will be the season for Garuba to grow, as Summer League is important too. If he can make good strides in Summer League, he’ll be adding more leg room for the upcoming season. Although the Rockets missed out on a backup center in free agency, Garuba will be the way to go, as he has shown improvement already from the beginning of last season. Summer League will be a great confidence builder for Garuba. Hopefully, Stephan Silas allows Garuba to add growth to his game, as he was drafted for a reason.