Akshita Patel


REPORTS: Is Usman Garuba A Viable Centre Option For The Los Angeles Lakers?

The Los Angeles Lakers are keen on crossing the finish line in the upcoming 2023-24 NBA season after falling to the Nuggets in the Conference finals last season. In the pursuit of the same, the purple and gold secured their core roster during the off-season. In less than a week after free agency kicked off, LA had locked in their 13 roster spots.

However, since then, the Lakers went on complete radio silence. They still have two roster spots to fill to reach the league-allowed limit. But LA follows a trend wherein they leave a slot empty and enter into the season with only 14 contracts in hand. That still leaves one empty spot. Amid this, a sturdy center option has been made available in the free agent market. Will LA call the shots?


Usman Garuba Strong But Not Perfect Fit For The Lakers

Usman Garuba
Credits: USA Today Network

The Los Angeles Lakers have often relied on a strong front-court presence to anchor their team. As of now, LA has only two center options, Anthony Davis and Jaxson Haynes. While Davis will be a regular starter, Jaxson will serve as a backup. However, if the team wants to rely heavily on front-court performance, they need more cover for AD. As a result, the Purple and Gold Army are actively seeking a center option in the market. While Christian Wood remains LA’s top choice, a young Usman Garuba has entered the market after clearing waivers. Garuba, a Spanish center forward, has played for multiple teams since getting drafted in 2021 but failed to leave a mark.

Usman Garuba has not been able to convert his defensive prowess from Europe to the NBA. He is good at taking shots at the rim but lacks potential as a full-fledged shot blocker. Garuba entered the NBA on a high but has failed to develop as a center forward. That makes him an unfit option for the Lakers. Usman has been in the league for three seasons and still looks the same. He does not seem to have expanded his skillset as a defender. Hence, unless LA is running out of options, Garuba should be stroked off their options list. The Lakers need someone who is strong on the defensive front to support Anthony Davis in need. As for Garuba, he is a better shooter than a defender/shot blocker.

Former Laker Could Come To LA’s Rescue

Photo by Rocky Widner/NBAE via Getty Images

As Christian Woods falls out of the Laker’s laps, another center option has entered free agency. The Dallas Mavericks have waived former Laker JaVale McGee, who has successfully cleared waivers to become a free agent. McGee won two championship rings with the purple and gold and fitted well into the roster.

JaVale McGee is the shot blocker the Lakers are looking for. The 7-foot tall center has recorded 1.4 blocks per game from 2009 till now. McGee is an effective defender if given the appropriate amount of chances. Hence, while LA’s first choice should be Christian Wood, JaVale McGee is the backup guy if the deal does not come through.