The Washington Wizards are picking squarely in the middle of the first round of the 2021 NBA Draft. Whether Washington trades up, down or stays firm at No. 15, here is the latest in our series on draft prospects who the Wizards could consider selecting.
2021 NBA Draft Prospect Preview: Luka Garza
2020/21 stats: 31 G, 24.1 ppg, 8.7 rpg, 1.7 apg, 0.7 spg, 1.6 bpg, 55.3 FG% (9.1/16.4), 44.0 3PT% (1.4/3.2), 70.9 FT%
Player comparison: Frank Kaminsky
Projections: NBC Sports Washington N/A, Ringer N/A, NBADraft.net N/A, Bleacher Report 48th
5 things to know:
- When it comes to the offensive end of the floor, Garza has a lot to offer. He has an advanced post game, does a good job at carving out space down low and putting himself in a position to score over his defender. Garza can finish with both hands around the rim and has a reliable hook shot that he likes to use. Post scoring isn't as valuable as it used to in the NBA, but in Garza's case, opposing teams won't be able to hide small bigs on him.
- Garza can play as a pick-and-pop big as well. He has a solid shooting stroke that has stretched beyond the 3-point line, as he shot 44% from deep last season on decent volume. If Garza can become a reliable floor-spacing big, it'll be easier for him to find minutes, and based on the tape, he should be able to knock down shots at a high level as a pro.
- Slow feet and limited athleticism make Garza a liability on the defensive end of the floor. He struggles to contain perimeter players on drives and doesn't exactly protect the rim all that well either. Most of Garza's success in the NBA will depend on whether he can hold up on defense. He doesn't project as a big who can switch or handle ball handlers in space, so whichever team he ends up on will have to drop him back against the pick and roll. If that's the only coverage a big man can passably play, then it'll severely limit his opportunities.
- Garza isn't the best post defender either. He gets moved off his spot too often for a player his size, doesn't have quick hands or a great feel for defense in general. If Garza is vulnerable in space against ball handlers and can't hold his own in the post, finding minutes in the NBA won't be easy.
- Garza lost 30 pounds between the end of the college season and the NBA Draft combine. The hope there is a slimmer frame will help him slide his feet better to keep up with perimeter players. He also mentioned cutting back on the number of post-ups he engages in and putting a heavier emphasis on spacing the floor. If the weight loss can help him become a better defender, we're in store for a much different Garza than what we saw at Iowa.
Fit with Wizards:
All things considered, there really isn't a place for a player like Garza on the Wizards as long as Thomas Bryant is on the roster. Everything Garza does well in terms of floor spacing, finishing on the roll and scoring in the post, Bryant already does at a higher level.
Plus, considering Bryant's defensive limitations, would it be the best idea to add another young big to Washington's center rotation who may or may not be able to hold up on defense? Daniel Gafford proved to be a dynamic defensive player while Robin Lopez and Alex Len had their moments as good rim protectors as well.
Garza will likely be available in the second round, so it's not like the Wizards would be passing on a first-round perimeter player for him. Still, it's probably better to get a veteran to compliment Gafford and Bryant at center rather than take a big swing on someone like Garza.