Should Masai Ujiri draft Real Madrid’s Usman Garuba?


This Toronto Raptors draft is not only more important than ever, but it’s more unpredictable than most draft classes. While they could opt for several collegiate stars, the international market, which features studs like Usman Garuba, could be the ideal place for Toronto to rebuild this roster.

Garuba is currently vying with Australia’s Josh Giddey and Turkey’s Alperen Sengun for the title of best international prospect in this draft class. The Real Madrid prospect is starting to prove that he has all of the physical and mental tools needed to become an impact starter in the NBA sooner rather than later.

Garuba could be a perfect player in the late first round, meaning that the Raptors could package their two second-round picks to move up into the 20s and add a player who make their frontcourt one of the most feared collectives in the Eastern Conference for decades to come.

Garuba is as raw as sashimi right now, but he has more than enough positive traits to develop with Toronto.

Toronto Raptors draft: Usman Garuba Strengths

Garuba is one of the best defensive prospects in this draft class, as the 6-8 forward’s 7-2 wingspan allows him to guard any position on the floor save for the point guard spot. Not only is he a master shot-blocker, but he has the quick feet and strength to prevent opponents from penetrating.

The offense is what everyone will try to poke holes in, but he’s shown enough positives in that area. His shooting touch is starting to get better, and he remains a quality passer. Playing for Spain in the 2019 FIBA U18 European Championship, Garuba averaged 15.6 points, 12.9 rebounds, 2.3 assists, and 3.7 blocks per game.

Toronto Raptors draft: Usman Garuba Weaknesses

Garuba is a VERY limited offensive player at this juncture. Garuba has averaged just 4.7 points and 4.6 rebounds with Madrid in his career. While playing against grown men at the age of 18 and 19 might impact those numbers, that should worry some NBA teams looking to bring him stateside.

Garuba’s offensive game is improving, but he doesn’t have much of a game right now beyond finishing at the rim or spotting up to shoot. Scoring off the dribble for someone his size isn’t a necessity, but when he can’t do it at all, it could make it even harder for Toronto to trust him with NBA minutes.

How would Usman Garuba fit on the Toronto Raptors?

Garuba is going to need a ton of time to work out some of the kinks in his game on the offensive end while adjusting to the physicality of the NBA. Luckily, a team like the Raptors can afford him the opportunity without throwing him into the fire, which hasn’t been great for a player like Theo Maledon on the Oklahoma City Thunder.

Be it through sticking him in the G League or simply putting him on the bench and adhering to a very restrictive diet of minutes, the Raptors have the infrastructure that could help someone as raw as Garuba continues to grow. In the late first or early second round, Garuba looks like an ideal fit for Toronto if they have the patience to develop him.