By Raul Jimenez
You’ve heard about Jorge Garbajosa’s skills, his shooting range, his toughness on defence, his ability to create team chemistry. You’ve heard that he played in Italy for Benetton, and that Maurizio Gherardini likes him. That’s nice. But I’ll tell you something about Garbajosa that nobody told you before: He’s the most Italian of the Spanish players.
Why do I say that? Because “Garba” has that thing that only Italians seem to have: he always knows how to win. Even when he plays poorly (and that doesn’t happen very often) he knows what to do to win.
I’ve read some profiles that say that he keeps on shooting even if he misses, but I know he won’t if his team doesn’t need him to do it. Yes, he can hit the three: he’s a good shooter from 6-7 metres [20-23 feet], and he completes this skill with a nice dribbling ability to drive to the hole. He likes to receive and drive to the opposite side, which is something important to keep the defence from recovering.
What we see in the diagram is Garba (4) getting the ball and driving to the basket. The help defender (3) comes over but he can’t cover Garba.
There seems to be confusion about Garba’s position. I can tell you that he is a 4-5-3 in Europe, but I think he’s really a 4 in the NBA. He can defend 5’s sometimes, but he’s perfect on 4’s (watch his defence over Dirk Nowitzki in the World Championships – simply great). He anticipates and he denies passes. Another thing you’ll love about him is his ability to force charges. He’ll be in the right place at the right moment.
Garba can play the low post, although last year he seldom did it (in Malaga they had Dan Santiago, who’s a really dominant 5 in Europe) but he is not as physical as needed to do it regularly in the NBA.
And about his passing abilities: just think that he has played for two of the best European coaches (Ettore Messina and Sergio Scariolo) and both of them remarked on this skill.
If Coach Sam Mitchell gives him time to play, you’ll fall in love with Garbajosa, and not only for his beard! And please, don’t assume that every Spanish man has a beard.
Now let’s talk about Jose Calderon. European coaches often say that European players don’t improve their game in the NBA. But after watching Jose play in Japan, it’s clear that he’s a better player than he was before. He can change not only the pace of his team, but also his own role from floor general to scorer to defender in the same game. That’s something he didn’t show in his last year in the Spanish ACB League and in Euroleague.
Now “Calde” knows the NBA, knows the teams, knows his own team and, as you realized last season, he’s a talented, hard-working player who likes playing D. He’s the complete package! I’m sure he will play more and better than last year. You’ll see him shooting more on pick-and-roll situations and scoring more often.
Enjoy the Spanish Dynamic Duo… two World Champions for Toronto!!!