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
Usman Garuba, NBA Draft, Knicks. (Photo by Sonia Canada/Getty Images) /

NBA Draft: Usman Garuba could blossom with the Knicks coaching staff

The first few notes you’ll always hear about Usman Garuba’s game are his energy and defense. He’s a 230lb game-wrecker who plays fast and determined. His level of activity and willingness to scrap and claw in the trenches is going to get the Knicks’ coaching staff’s attention right off the bat.

Garuba can rim protect and has nice anticipation on his shot-blocking timing. Again, he’s not an incredible leaper, but his excellent positioning and timing show up in his interior defense and on the glass. He’s a very smart player at a young age.

We saw Knicks head coach Tom Thibodeau rely on the slower, grind-it-out centers like Taj Gibson and Nerlens Noel (not like he had much of a choice to do otherwise) and in some ways, Garuba can effectively perform those same duties scrapping in the paint.

He has the strength to hang with NBA centers. He showcased strong defense against much older players in Liga ACB – finishing 13th in the league in defensive rating. 

The biggest difference, and perhaps the most exciting part of his game, is that Garuba is an agile perimeter defender.

While his likely projection is as a power forward/center, there are parts of Usman Garuba’s game, particularly on the defensive end of the floor, where you’re better off labeling him as “positionless”.

Garuba is one of the best perimeter wing defenders in the NBA Draft, period.

It’s to the point where some top draft analysts use some premier NBA wing defenders as player comparisons, such as OG Anunoby.

He’s light on his feet, uses every inch of his wingspan, and once again, has great anticipation. The Knicks don’t have a lot of elite perimeter defenders. Imagine Tom Thibodeau being able to coach him and help him reach his defensive ceiling?

He could very much play the rim-protection role but still be deployed all over the court. New York does a ton of rapid-fire switching with their defensive scheme and Usman Garuba could become the stick of dynamite who blows up opposing offenses.

It’s hard to wrap your head around that type of big, physical, agile defensive player, and the only one who really comes to mind as a high-end comparison is Draymond Green.

Usman Garuba’s offense isn’t as instant-impact as his defense, but it could still mesh well with this current Knicks roster.