Usman Garuba enters the pack as one of the top international prospects in the 2021 NBA Draft. His unique skillset will attract plenty of teams, and gone are the days of scouts worrying about how international players will adapt into the league.
Usman Garuba 2021 NBA Draft Profile
Garuba has been a part of the Real Madrid organization since 2017. He played on the “B Team” until 2019, when he was promoted to the senior team.
His promotion has been a major success. Garuba was part of the team that won the Liga ACB Championship in 2019, and was named one of the league’s top young players in 2020. This season in Spain, he’s averaging 5.3 points and five rebounds per game in 18 minutes on the floor. The numbers may not pop off the box score, but he’s playing a major role for one of Europe’s elite teams.
Garuba’s talent was always noticeable since 2016. At the Under-16 FIBA Championship that year, at just 14-years-old, Garuba won a gold medal with Spain and was named MVP after averaging 16 points, 12 rebounds, and four blocks per game. His transition to the pros in Europe has been smooth and should continue in the NBA.
First of all, Garuba holds the ideal mix of strength, mobility, and finesse. He can overpower opponents in the paint, but also run the floor as a major lob threat. It’s easy to see why his offensive arsenal is mostly in the paint off fast-breaks, pick-and-rolls, or back-to-the-basket moves.
Besides emerging as a stud offensively, he’s a high-energy prospect on defense. His wingspan allows him to rebound and shot-block with ease, but his mobility stands out as most attractive. Garuba should translate into being a well-rounded two-way player in the NBA.
There’s not a major noticeable weakness in Garuba’s game, but more so aspects he can improve on. This is expected as he’s only 19-years-old.
To truly succeed in the NBA, he’ll have to improve on his shooting. His stroke is already there, so more mid-range practice will make him a better scorer. The potential is also there for him to extend his range to the three-point line, making him a floor-spacing big. He doesn’t ball handle or facilitate much, as he doesn’t have to, but these are other aspects he can work on as well.
The best comparison for Garuba by the simple eye test is Kenneth Faried. They’re both high-energy rim-runners with tantalizing offensive rebounding and shot-blocking potential. Garuba can turn out to be a steal if he consistently played as Faried did in his best years.
2021 NBA Draft Projection
There’s definitely potential for Garuba to be selected inside the lottery, but many players showcased their worth during March Madness to move up. Garuba did not have that luxury, so he’ll likely land in the mid-first round, such as the 15-20 range.
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