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) /
4 of 4
NBA Draft
Usman Garuba, NBA Draft, Knicks. (Photo by Sonia Canada/Getty Images) /

NBA Draft: Usman Garuba could fit perfectly on the bench

Anyone who watched the Knicks in 2021 knows how different the style of player was from their starters to their 2nd unit. While still embracing the same hard-nosed, gritty identity that Tom Thibodeau instilled, the 2nd unit was a much more fast-paced, free-flowing style of offense than the team’s starting unit.

Garuba is very much a fullcourt player. He’s not the alley-oop finisher that Obi Toppin is, but he’s got the itch to push the pace – whether it means quick outlet passes on rebounds are just the simple willingness to sprint down the floor and make the defense work. He’s tireless.

The pairing of Obi Toppin and Usman Garuba in the frontcourt sound oh so chaotic… in the best ways possible.

It would be an undersized frontcourt but one that would complement each other on the floor together. What Toppin lacks in defensive prowess, Garuba can be there as a support system. They both thrive in transition. The Knicks could run a ton of different pick-and-roll combinations with the two.

It could be peak “small-ball” basketball.

Garuba doesn’t have any scoring moves out of the post or off the dribble. This is the day and age of basketball where if you’re a big-man who doesn’t have a bag of moves, it’s almost considered a major flaw. That doesn’t mean you should confuse Usman Garuba with someone who simply isn’t a threat with the ball in his hands.

He’s a good passer for his size, which is another fun reason to envision him and Obi Toppin on the court together. Garuba is capable of making cross-court kick-outs and swift hand-offs. He looks comfortable.

There are plenty of analysts who don’t believe he can ever shoot due to his 65% free throw shooting and aforementioned lack of scoring touch, but I think Garuba can become a stretch, catch-and-shoot player from 3.

In his 3 seasons at Madrid, he shot 31.% from deep. Defenses usually paid him no mind on the perimeter, but he could gain more confidence in his shot as he grows older. If he’s left wide-open, he’s already capable of knocking it down.

He’s not going to become some kind of ball-handling sniper, but I believe it’s well within the realm of possibility for Garuba to be able to consistently hit open catch-and-shoot 3s in the NBA. We’ve seen too many examples of NBA bigs who develop a 3-point shot 5-8 years into their career.

So, to summarize, the Knicks are probably going to want to address their big-man depth, whether it’s in free agency or with one of their first 3 picks in the NBA Draft.

To me, Usman Garuba is the perfect balance of NBA Draft prospect who can carve out a small role early on for a coach like Tom Thibodeau while not being limited to a role player down the line.

His ceiling as a defensive monster, rebounding menace, and someone who contributes as an off-ball finisher on offense is really compelling. By all accounts, he has the high motor and work ethic to get there.

The Spaniard could add some new dynamics to the Knicks frontcourt that they didn’t even realize they needed.

Next. Knicks Mock Draft 2.0: Trading up in the draft. dark