NBA rookie Usman Garuba looking forward to bigger role with Rockets

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As a teenager playing for a perennial Spanish title contender in Real Madrid, the on-court role for Usman Garuba was often limited. But as he transitions to the NBA, the 19-year-old is optimistic that the rebuilding status of the Houston Rockets could bring greater opportunities.

A 6-foot-8 forward who is well regarded for his defense, Garuba was picked at No. 23 overall in the first round of the 2021 NBA draft. In a recent interview with Spanish newspaper Marca, here’s what Garuba said about his move to the Rockets (as translated by Eurohoops.net).

When asked what he wants to improve on as an NBA rookie in the upcoming 2021-22 season, Garuba explained in the interview:

Having the ball in my hands more time and those kinds of things that I could not do in Madrid, where I have had to adapt to a role due to the type of players there are [on Real Madrid]. In general, to be able to do more and more things.

Regarding Houston’s current status as a rebuilding team and what it means to his personal development, Garuba said:

I’m on a team that is undergoing ‘reconstruction,’ with many young players who are going to give a lot of prominence. Our key is going to improve day by day, and that’s my goal, too. To go day by day, working and improving many aspects that I wasn’t able to do these years due to the demands of Real Madrid, which is normal.

Garuba’s average playing time with Real Madrid was capped at 19 minutes per game or less, both in Liga ACB and EuroLeague play. Be it with the Rockets or their NBA G League affiliate (the Rio Grande Valley Vipers), expect Garuba to have an opportunity to play more than that in 2021-22 as Houston looks to help unlock his full potential.

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