With Christian Wood out and a rookie likely to step into the power forward role, Usman Garuba is in an interesting spot as the 2022 season inches closer.
Alperen Sengun is obviously the biggest winner on the Rockets from the Christian Wood trade. Moving from a depth role to a starting one was the clear next step for the Turkish star, and everyone in Houston and throughout the NBA is going to watch his development closely as international players continue their dominance in the U.S.
Outside of Sengun, the next winner on the team is Usman Garuba.
Garuba currently projects to be a depth guy for the Rockets down low for the foreseeable future. This future could have Garuba squarely on the roster during a key time where the franchise transitions from being one of the worst in the NBA to back in the playoff hunt.
As Sengun moves up, so too does Garuba, and that isn't the only place where he should see his standing improve.
While everyone in Houston is excited for the likely addition of Paolo Banchero, it isn't etched in stone yet that the rookie is going to come in from the first week and play ridiculous minutes during his first year.
Sometimes it takes guys a little bit before they are caught up to the speed of the NBA, and Garuba looks like he could emerge as the next man up behind Banchero also.
Jae'Sean Tate and Kenyon Martin Jr. are also going to be in contention for this depth role as well at the four based on their time there this past season, but the rookie arriving and having a command on the role should shift the two forwards down to more of a three, again leaving Garuba as a prime candidate to get minutes.
It will be very nice to finally see what Usman Garuba is actually able to do with more than a handful of minutes and chances per game. Perhaps he will be able to solidify a spot for himself on the roster in the future that this team is trying to reach.
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