5 Houston Rockets who may not be back next season
2. Usman Garuba
After getting drafted in a 2021 Rockets class that featured Jalen Green, Alperen Sengun, and Josh Christopher, Usman Garuba arrived with a bit of hype for his defensive prowess. At the time, Rockets GM Rafael Stone described Garuba as "the best defender in the world that's not in the NBA."
Garuba's first year in Houston showed more of his ability to log DNPs than his ability to defend, as he played in just 24 of a potential 82 games. A significant chunk of that time was missed due to injury, which was a bit of a bummer, as the Rockets' brass didn't know what he could do on the NBA level after an entire season.
Garuba didn't necessarily give reason to be excited in his second season either, as the Rockets gave him just 10 minutes per game, although he did play in 75 games, to his credit. At 6'9, Garuba is a bit undersized to be a center and he certainly doesn't have the skillset to be a power forward.
Although he's flashed the ability to be a formidable defender in spurts, the Rockets would likely replace him if they were looking for a defensive ace, as they could get someone better on that end, especially when you consider that he's not the quickest on his feet. Garuba also picks up fouls more than you'd like, when forced to be the defensive anchor.
And on the other end of the floor? Well....it would be a compliment to say he's underwhelming on the offensive end. It would also be nice if he had a better outside shot, as Garuba went 1-for-19 from long-range to close out the season (final 14 games). As stated, the Rockets could quite easily replace him and likely will, if they land a defensive-minded head coach, which is what they're looking for.