NBA Draft: Usman Garuba could be a force of nature on the Knicks

Usman Garuba, NY Knicks, NBA Draft. (Photo by Sonia Canada/Getty Images)
Usman Garuba, NY Knicks, NBA Draft. (Photo by Sonia Canada/Getty Images) /
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NBA Draft:  Why Usman Garuba could be a steal for the Knicks

Usman Garuba has one of the more complex draft profiles of any prospect. The 19-year-old Spaniard has spent the past 3 seasons with Real Madrid in Spain’s top flight of basketball in Liga ACB. He already has a few seasons of professional basketball in a world-renowned league under his belt.

He has a powerful, stocky frame and stands 6’8 tall with a 7’3 wingspan. From his physical profile to his playing style, he’s an unconventional big-man in quite a few ways, but there’s a lot that jumps out when you watch his tape that looks like it would translate to the league.

While Garuba isn’t the tallest big or the most explosive leaper in the NBA Draft, he still finds ways to cause damage in the paint. His wide, powerful base and long wingspan allow him to compensate for other physical shortcomings, and he’s certainly been battle-tested in Spain against players much older than him.

Garuba seems to be a lock as a 1st round pick, but his projection, like so many of the other players just outside the lottery, is difficult to pin down. He could be a top-15 player or he may not be drafted until the very end of the first round.

For the Knicks, you’ll frequently hear that the idea of drafting “project” players is something the team should avoid because their head coach, Tom Thibodeau, would banish them to the back of the bench and they would never develop.

While there is some truth to Thibodeau’s reluctance to rely on rookies, the way this team is currently set up in terms of their roster makeup and aspirations to build sustainable success, a player like Garuba would make a lot of sense and could find a role early on.

This is where you don’t want to fall into the trap of ignoring a prospect simply because they’re hard to project. New York isn’t a championship roster today. They don’t need to restrict themselves to only drafting instant, heavy-minute rookie contributors.

You have to factor in the prospect with the situation they’re being drafted into.

Garuba is a player who will find ways to earn the coaching staff’s trust because of his high motor and he could not only contribute early in his career, he could turn into an absolute beast for the future.

The match between New York and Usman Garuba starts with his devastating defense.