By Jeff Wong
Bryan Colangelo’s been wheeling and dealing again, most recently trading smooth big man Charlie Villanueva for lightning quick guard T.J. Ford. Among his next moves is the signing of Spanish free agent forward Jorge Garbajosa. How will “Garba” fit in this roster?
Garba (or “Goober,” as Ryan affectionately calls him) is a power forward/centre in Europe who, according to his Euroleague profile, is just under 6’8″, although other sources say he is 6’7″ or 6’9″. There are some who liken him to Andres Nocioni, an NBA 3/4, but this description makes me think of Charles Oakley with a three-point shot and without the bizarre remarks. Maybe instead he could refer to himself in the third person (“Jorge is getting upset!!”) and fill the void left by Jalen Rose…
Here are some noteworthy remarks in Draft Express’s scouting report:
Personality: “He’s first a team player, even when he presides as the leader.”
Offence: “Garbajosa gains most of his offensive advantages on the perimeter, forcing his matchup to step out thanks to his reliable perimeter stroke, and enjoying range that likely extends out to the NBA three-point line. Meanwhile, he will punish his man for guarding him too closely by taking him off the dribble and looking for the layup. He’s a nice ball-handler and will rarely turn it over.”
“He does a tremendous job clearing space in the paint for his team’s center, allowing him to operate more comfortably with the room he creates. Garbajosa himself will feed him or move the ball so it can reach that spot. If he’s guarded by a smaller defender, he can take him to the low post, where he usually tries to attract defensive help and feed an open teammate. He’s a very good passer, not spectacular, but tremendously effective, particularly within the flow of the offense. And he’s constantly working to make the offense run smoothly, setting picks and moving without the ball.”
Defence: “He’s a great player forcing personal fouls, mainly in slashing situations… he’s as good defensively as he is offensively. He delivers every bit of intensity and intelligence to get the job done. His lateral movement is quite nice, and he’s also a tough guy. Considering his limited physical and athletic gifts, he’s a remarkable shot-blocker who shows excellent timing … Not a bad rebounder in the international game …”
Weaknesses: “He’s a 6-9 power forward with limited leaping ability and nothing more than decent quickness.”
“His shot selection is not always the best. Sometimes he’ll settle for the three-pointer excessively, even if he’s not making them. However, that has been the case when he has enjoyed a leading role on his team; in a more marginal role, it’s hard to picture him going overboard with his perimeter stroke.”
He sounds to me like a serious upgrade over Matt Bonner, adding experience and defence to long bombs and hustle.
Garba also sounds good for team chemistry, as he is already familiar with some of his current teammates. His career began with Tau Vitoria, point guard Jose Calderon‘s former team, and has also played for Benetton Treviso alongside first pick Andrea Bargnani and second-rounder Uros Slokar.
So the Raptors now have five players who can fill in at the 3: Garba, Joey Graham, Morris Peterson, Kris Humphries and P.J. Tucker. However, none of these guys are natural 3’s, since Garba, Graham and Humphries are converted 4’s, Mo Pete is now more of a 2, and the undersized Tucker (6’5″) is being groomed to cover the 2 as well. Nevertheless, with so many looking for floor time, the pressure is on the youngsters to earn their minutes.
The thin spots on the Raptors’ depth chart are now third-string centre (get well soon, Pape), backup shooting guard and veteran backup point/combo guard. The rumoured deals for Euroleague MVP Anthony Parker and Phoenix Suns’ shooter Eddie House would patch up those holes perfectly and, presumably, complete the team – but you never know with wily Bry Colangelo.