Thoughts on Usman Garuba and Carlos Alocen

January 22nd, 2021

By Alan Lu

This time around, I decided to take the time to watch Real Madrid’s 6-8 forward, Usman Garuba and Carlos Alocen play in a January 2nd Spanish ACB League game against Iberostar Tenerife, as I was able to see this with thanks to YouTube via Coach Gaizkaeibar.  I thought Garuba played fairly well, and Alocen had some good moments at times in his team’s win this game.  Here are my thoughts on how both played fared, as well as how their games may translate to the NBA.

Real Madrid’s Usman Garuba is a talented forward that is currently projected to go in the mid-first round range of the 2021 NBA Draft.
Angel Martinez/Euroleague Basketball via Getty Images)

Usman Garuba is a very athletic, energetic combination forward that can make high-motor plays to help his team on both ends of the floor. He’s had his ups and downs this season, but he seems to be playing better as of late, and is starting to show a more diverse offensive game right now.

Garuba excelled at scoring on hustle plays.  He showed a knack for scoring on put backs after grabbing offensive rebounds, and he was able to score on a tip-in off of his own miss.  He also ran the floor hard to score on a powerful, two-handed dunk on a breakaway.

He also showed a decent ability to score off the dribble.  Garuba was able to drive to his left to score on an open layup from the high post.  However early on, he used a quick rip move from the post and drove to his right, but missed on a leaner that time.

He also flashed the ability to knock down jumpers to help space the floor for his team.  Garuba was able to make a wide-open, spot-up three off the catch from beyond the arc.  However, he missed several other times, as he missed on a couple of corner threes, and he also missed an open three at the top of the key early in this contest.

Also, he displayed adequate playmaking skills.  Garuba would sometimes push the ball up the court off of steals, and he would drive and kick balls out to shooters to set up scoring chances for them.  He also would set screens for his teammates.  Every once in a while, he would throw a pass that would get deflected, or get a ball poked away, but he also did a good job of not turning the ball over on offense.

Plus, Garuba did a very good job of rebounding the basketball.  He would often leap up to get numerous boards on both ends of the floor, and he excelled at scoring on put backs to provide his team with second chance points.  Sometimes, he would bring the ball up after leaping up to get defensive rebounds.  He also would tip balls to his teammates to help his team get extra boards.  A few times though, he would occasionally let opponents get boards in his area.

In addition, he also played adequate defense.  Garuba did a great job of running in to intercept passes to get steals, and he has good hands and anticipation skills to do so.  He would also actively rotate and contest shots in the paint to force misses.  He also held his ground when defending a taller player in the post late in this game to get a stop another time.  However, he generally struggled to defend taller, stronger opponents in the post.  There was one play where he committed a reach-in foul after wildly going for a steal.  Other times, he would give up deep position down low, which would lead him to commit fouls.  Other times, he would struggle to defend out on the perimeter, and he would tend to give up too much space to shooters, which would allow them to score on three-point shots.

Overall, Usman Garuba is an athletic, high-motor big man that excelled as an interior player in his team’s win over Iberostar Tenerife.  He has been a solid role player for his team, as he will make hustle plays to help his team on both ends of the court.  He’s also shown a burgeoning face-up game, though he will still need to continue to improve and expand his skill set offensively.  He has played well in some of the toughest professional basketball leagues, which could serve him well moving forward.  Right now, he could be a solid pick for an NBA team in the mid first round range, as he may have the skills to thrive as a role player in the NBA.

Carlos Alocen had his ups and downs in his team’s win over Iberostar Tenerife.  He did a good job of making shots, particularly off the dribble and he also played unselfishly, but he also committed a lot of turnovers in this game. He showed a solid ability to score off the dribble.  Alocen can use either hand to score, though he prefers going to his right, and there was one play where he drove left off of a screen and then quickly went to his right to score on a crafty, fade-away floater.  He also made a nifty, step-back mid-range jumper from outside the right elbow.  Sometimes though, he would rush his shots that would lead to misses, and he also his shot blocked once.

He also ran the floor and caught a long outlet pass to score on an open layup on the break.  Alocen was efficient as a scorer from inside the arc, as he excelled at attacking the basket to score the basketball, but he did not take or make a single three-point shot from beyond the arc.

On the downside, he was quite turnover prone on offense.  For the positives, Alocen would operate at his best when he would play patiently and probe the defense.  He can throw accurate passes off the dribble, and he would sometimes kick balls out to shooters to set up scores for them.  However, he had a lot of clumsy, ball-handling turnovers, and he generally struggled to handle considerable ball pressure in this game.  He was called for a clear out foul when driving to the hoop to commit an offensive foul and a turnover.  He also dribbled a ball off his own foot and fell to lose it to an opponent another time.  On a separate play, he took too long to try to break the press up court, which led to another team turnover.  Late in this game, he had a ball stolen away from him down on a drive another time.

In this game, he was not credited with having collected a rebound, but he was able to help his team get an offensive rebound after a teammate tapped a ball out to him midway through this match. Also, he played adequate defense in this game.  Alocen would use his length to quickly change the trajectory of his opponent’s passes to force them to commit passing turnovers.  Other times, he would fight through screens, as he was able to get an opponent to miss a shot off of a drive, and he also successfully challenged a three-point shot to force a miss on a separate possession.  However, he would sometimes struggle to fight through screens, which would lead his team to commit fouls and allow scores.  There was another play where he over-helped off of his man to defend in the post, and he ended up getting beat on a cut to allow a score around the basket.

Overall, Carlos Alocen is a skilled, mobile playmaking guard that can shoot and pass the basketball.  He did a good job of making shots off the dribble, but he also struggled to limit his turnovers on offense in this game.  Still, he was able to score creatively around the basket at times to demonstrate his high skill level on offense.  He will need to trust his outside shot more and take better care of the basketball, but his offensive skills could enable him to be a second round pick whenever he decides to enter the NBA draft.

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