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Warriors sign Usman Garuba to a two-way contract

Intriguing center depth!

Usman Garuba dribbling a ball Photo by Scott Taetsch/Getty Images

The Golden State Warriors heard your pleas for another big man and are starting to answer. A few minutes after news broke that the team will work out former MVP candidate and future Hall of Famer Dwight Howard, news also broke that they’re signing center Usman Garuba to a two-way contract.

Garuba is a highly intriguing player. The Houston Rockets chose him with the No. 23 pick in the 2021 NBA Draft, but he was a name that a few people wanted the Warriors to consider with the No. 14 pick, which they ended up using on Moses Moody.

Through 99 games over two years with the Rockets, Garuba has averaged 12.2 minutes, 2.8 points, and 3.9 rebounds per game, while shooting 53.5% on twos and 36.7% on threes.

But it’s defensive potential that made the 21 year old such an intriguing prospect when he decided to enter the draft. Before the draft, SB Nation’s Ricky O’Donnell wrote this about the lengthy young big:

Garuba debuted for Real Madrid as a 16-year-old and has been on the fast track to international basketball stardom ever since. The 6’8 big man combines long arms (7’3 wingspan) with a strong chest and quick feet to help him play much bigger than his listed size. It feels like Garuba was tailor-made to defend the spread pick-and-roll in the modern game with a non-stop motor and sharp awareness. His offensive development has stagnated recently, but there are reasons to be optimistic despite underwhelming numbers on that end this season. Garuba is a fine passer on the short roll, and has shown some improvement as a shooter over the last two years, hitting 31.6 percent of his threes on low volume this year. Garuba will be an energy big with notable versatility early in his career, but there’s potential here for him to eventually grow into something more.

The Ringer’s Kevin O’Connor added this:

Plays with elite defensive effort and intelligence. He’s always locked in and flies around the floor for blocked shots, steals, and deflections.

Switchable defender with the bulk to handle bigger players and the agility to match up against quicker wings and even guards. He’s aware and does a good job of using his hands to shut passing windows.

It will be fun to see if Garuba can develop further with the Warriors. We know they love bigs who can pass, but the key to him becoming an impact player for the team is to materialize that defensive potential while making smart plays on the other end of the floor. And it’s hard to imagine a better mentor for that than the blueprint for the player Garuba is trying to be: Kevon Looney.

The Warriors now have a pair of players signed to two-way contracts, as Garuba joins Lester Quiñones. As a reminder, players on two-way contracts can be signed and released at any point with no impact on the salary cap, and teams are now allowed three two-way contracts instead of the previous maximum of two.

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