After trading up for Alperen Sengun, the Houston Rockets made back-to-back selections late in the first round of the 2021 NBA Draft Thursday Night. At pick No. 23, the Rockets selected Usman Garuba from Spain.
Garuba is a 6-foot-8 forward who has the upside to develop into one of the top all-around defenders in the league. His long arms enable him to be a threat in the passing lanes, coming into the draft measuring in with a 7-foot-2 wingspan.
He is already getting a sample size of what the NBA has to offer, as the 19-year-old forward is currently playing with Spain during the 2021 Tokyo Olympics. In a loss against Team USA, Garuba recorded eight rebounds and four points in 13 minutes of action.
Usman Garuba is 6'8 with a 7'3 wingspan. Elite post and switch defender potential. I wrote about him this morning but I see him as a bigger, longer PJ Tucker with higher upside. Just 19 and already battle tested. I love this pick. pic.twitter.com/WgjPo11lEO— ClutchFans (@clutchfans) July 30, 2021
The Rockets made Arizona State’s Josh Christopher their final draft selection of the first round at pick No. 24. He played 17 games with the Sun Devils, where he recorded 14.3 points while shooting 43.2 percent from the field. Christopher’s best game came during a loss against Villanova, as the 6-foot-5 guard scored a career-best 28 points.
He has the potential to develop into a solid two-way player, as he averaged 1.5 steals during his lone year at Arizona State. Unless Rafael Stone trades into the second round, Christopher will be the Rockets’ final pick of the draft.