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The Rockets have a plan for Usman Garuba

Whether with the Rockets or in the G-League, the team is invested in developing Garuba.

2021 Las Vegas Summer League - Houston Rockets v Portland Trail Blazers Photo by Garrett Ellwood/NBAE via Getty Images

Usman Garuba is a marvelous defensive specimen at 19-years-old for the Houston Rockets. Although Garuba only clocked 18 minutes per night in three Summer League games, he showed flashes of his defensive presence.

Garuba proved that he can play backside defense in a zone on the court while coming from the other side. His 7’3” wingspan helps Garuba detain opposing players in different parts of the court, including if his matchup breaks free, his long arms allow him to still play the ball. Garuba managed a 91.5 defensive rating for his cumulative Summer League performance.

Because of Garuba’s defensive versatility, he could guard any player on the court. Players in the Summer League struggled against Garuba in open space and post-ups. Like his lateral defense, he has great footwork so he can stay in front of his matchup. Garuba’s strength plays a huge part because it forces his opposing player in any direction he wants.

Even though Garuba isn’t the best offensive player, he still provides a ton of value. He’ll be useful in pick-and-roll opportunities because of his size, speed, and versatility. His athleticism will be seen in lobs and put-back dunks this season. Hopefully, in the future, Garuba will be able to space the floor with his shooting. He only took four attempts during the Summer League.

A source told TDS that the front office and coaching staff will look to use Garuba in a small-ball rotation as a center, and he could possibly be put in the G-League if he’s not quite ready. There is no expectation on his minutes yet. The team will need to see more of him in action on the court.

Garuba did look lost in several possessions inside of the Summer League, but it wasn’t his fault. He had just finished playing with Spain for the Olympics before he joined the Rockets in Summer League. At that point, Garbua was completely tired and not used to American basketball.

Hopefully, Garuba is allowed to be on schedule no matter if he is in the G-League or NBA for Houston. Garuba’s upside is important for his future and the Rockets.