Not often is one of the more polarizing players in a draft a prospect that ends up drafted in teh 50s, but Luka Garza fit that description. After a dominating career at Iowa, many questioned whether Garza’s style of basketball would translate to the NBA. It seemed that immediately following his selection at No. 52 most Detroit Pistons fans were not supportive, though you can only get so angry when you’re debating players in the latter half of the second round. But in a short time, Garza, and his father Frank, have quickly become fan favorites.
It seems like his path to an NBA roster is pretty clear. Have an offensive game, specifically shooting, that is able to at least balance out the defensive side of the ball where he seems to have obvious limitations. How legit is his ability as a stretch big? Is the defense REALLY that much of a liability? I go to the film to try and answer these questions AND highlight a couple areas of his game that might be “X-Factors” for him.
This one is pretty simple. If Garza is able to knock down shots from behind the 3-point line at a good clip, he provides the Pistons something they need and value. As with all of these breakdowns, we have a very small sample size and it is still Summer League, but so far the returns have looked good. I think we have seen enough to at least be optimistic that the 3-point shooting is legit, though maybe with a worrisome slow release. I also take a look at some other aspects of his offense/scoring that he has in his bag and/or could develop.
By far the biggest knock on Garza coming into the league was his ability on this end of the floor. For me, it is not about him becoming a “plus” defender but at least getting to a place where he is a neutral force on the floor. Putting Garza in drop coverage when forced to defend a ball screen is about the only option available. There are obvious concerns when getting switched onto a smaller/quicker player or cross-matched in transition. I take a look at how he has fared in these situations thus far in Summer League.
I realize these two things do not go together like peanut butter and jelly, BUT I believe for Garza they could be the two skills that ultimately get him on an NBA floor consistently. You add “above average” rebounding and passing to his high-level shooting and now you are consistently outweighing the possible issues defensively.
For me, I have always wanted Luka Garza to end up on the Pistons roster in one way or another. I believed the offensive skill set was at least enough to warrant a chance from an organization and why not in Detroit? With that said, I was not sure things would translate as well and as quickly as they have up to this point in the summer. I know, I know….I preach all the time that “it’s just Summer League” and we should not overreact. However, based on what we have seen, I love that Luka Garza got the Pistons second two-way contract. I know that means taking that two-way spot from another young prospect, but Garza has intrigued me enough with his potential as an NBA player that I think he is worth it.