With the competition tightening up in the growing 2022 NBA season, teams have been busy experimenting with their rosters and finding the perfect mix of guns that will land them a spot in the playoffs and potentially in the final stage.
Although the Minnesota Timberwolves were able to get back on track after ending their three-game losing streak with a 109-101 win over the Memphis Grizzlies, the former’s chances of following up their impressive performance last season with another appearance in the playoffs are still uncertain as the team has shown signs of inconsistency a couple of times this season.
Now standing with an 11-11 slate at the 10th seat in the Western Conference, the Wolves have a couple of cogs to bank on aside from their usual starters, one of which is 6-foot-10 center, Luka Garza. A towering stud with lots of potentials, should Minnesota give more minutes to Garza? Moreover, does giving him more time impact the Wolves’ 2022 NBA odds?
NEWS: @Timberwolves transfer center Luka Garza from G League affiliate @iawolves.
In 7 games with Iowa this season, Garza, who was named G League Player of the Week today, is averaging 27.3 points on 67.6% from the field, including 55.2% from three and 9.0 rebounds per game.
— Timberwolves PR (@Twolves_PR) November 29, 2022
Since his collegiate days with the Iowa Hawkeyes, Garza had always been on top of his game. He is currently one of the former Hawkeyes playing in the NBA.
As a rookie, Luka already logged 12.1 points per game, along with 1.1 assists, 0.3 steals, and a block across 21.7 minutes in 33 games. Although they were only able to clinch four wins after 18 matches, Luka’s numbers were above what one would expect from a rookie.
Despite being a newcomer, the American-Bosnian baller led the Hawkeyes in blocked shots with 32, second in rebounding with 6.4 a game, second in free throws made with 92 and free throws attempted at 135, and third in scoring, providing 12.1 a game. In the same year, he became the first baller since 2012 from the Hawkeyes to tally at least four double-doubles as a freshman.
Garza continued to explode for Iowa in his sophomore year, ranking second in the team in terms of scoring with 13.1 points per game, while also being the fourth-best rebounder from the team with 4.5 per match.
He was also an efficient shooter for the Hawkeyes, posting a 53.1 success rate from the field, leading Iowa and ranking 10th in the conference.
Luka made another history that season as he became the sixth Hawkeye to drop 20 points and seven rebounds in their NCAA debut. He is considering one of the top 10 best Iowa Hawkeyes basketball players of all time.
Recordist In Iowa
The 6-foot-10 center continued to shine in his junior year, garnering a number of awards under his belt. These included Big Ten Men’s Basketball Player of the Year, Unanimous Consensus First-Team All-American, Naismith Kareem Abdul-Jabbar Center of the Year Award, NABC Pete Newell Big Man of the Year, among others.
After 31 performances, Garza posted an average of 23.9 points per game, along with 1.2 assists, 1.8 blocks, and 0.8 steals.
He also continued to become a reliable shooter for Iowa with a 54/35/65 shooting split. In the same year, Garza was put in the spotlight as one of the four players, including Kevin Durant, Michael Beasley, and Frank Kaminsky, in the country to accumulate 700+ points, 300+ rebounds, 50+ blocks and 35+ three-pointers.
In his final year for Iowa, Garza led the entire team in all departments with 24.1 points per game, 0.7 assists, 1.6 blocks, and 0.7 steals. His outstanding 55/44/70 shooting split turned out to be the best in the entire NCAA. Apart from these, Luka was also able to break the record he set in the previous season with 747 points at the end of the tourney.
These numbers were enough to land Iowa in the third spot at the end of the season, one of their bests in recent memory. In the same season, Luka also bagged the following awards: Big Ten Men’s Basketball Player of the Year, Oscar Robertson Trophy, Lute Olson National Player of the Year Award, and Associated Press Big Ten Player of the Year, among others.
He left Iowa being the team’s all-time leading scorer and ended up as one of the nine studs in Iowa men’s basketball history to have his jersey number retired.
🏆 Luka Garza wins AP Player of the Year!
👏 @LukaG_55 #Hawkeyes pic.twitter.com/qtgolKQROK
— NCAA March Madness (@MarchMadnessMBB) April 1, 2021
In 2021, Garza was selected by the Detroit Pistons as the 52nd overall pick. He was signed to a two-way deal after impressing the team in the Summer League. Eventually, Detroit’s front office upgraded his contract to a standard one.
Luka had had a couple of high moments with Detroit since making his NBA debut against the Chicago Bulls. These include an 80 percent success rate from the field and a hundred percent from beyond the arc in a battle against the Miami Heat.
A day before his birthday, Garza logged a career-high 20 points in a game opposite the Spurs. In another battle with the Spurs, Luka tied his 20-point career-high while also adding a career-high 14 rebounds, his first ever double-double in his NBA career.
However, despite being a dependable player, the Pistons waived him in 2022. He ended his stint with Detroit generating 5.8 points per game, along with 0.6 assists, 0.3 steals, and 0.2 blocks.
Luka Garza finishing strong in Summer League #Hawkeyes #Pistons pic.twitter.com/otDr7XfvUh
— Adam McGinnis (@adammcginnis) August 17, 2021
From Portland To Minnesota
Garza joined the Portland Trail Blazers in the 2022 NBA Summer League before eventually joining the Wolves’ den and signing a two-way contract with Minnesota in mid-October.
Garza has been transferred from the Minnesota Timberwolves in the NBA to the Iowa Wolves in the G-League and vice-versa a couple of times this season. It is notable how he is able to produce a minimum of 20 points in the G-League since he is given more minutes on the floor.
Currently, Luka plays for Iowa in the G-League and is averaging 27.3 points, nine rebounds, 3.9 assists, 0.7 steals, and a block across 33.8 minutes a game.
Meanwhile, after surprising the Lakers in the preseason, Garza has only suited up once for Minnesota, entering the court for just a minute in a game against the Pacers.
💥 FINAL SCORE THREAD 💥
Reigning Player of the Week Luka Garza continues his dominant scoring stretch, dropping 33 points to life the @iawolves to a Friday morning win.
💥 Emmanuel Mudiay: 19 PTS, 5 REB, 2 STL
💥 Devontae Cacok: 20 PTS, 10 REB, 2 BLK pic.twitter.com/3iOELnmbA1
— NBA G League (@nbagleague) December 2, 2022
WHAT CAN HE BRING
With Karl-Anthony Towns sidelined by an injury and the rest of the squad struggling to find consistency, the team can look into shaking up their roster a bit.
Rudy Gobert has had a hard time finding his groove in the Wolves’ recent games, which should serve as an eye-opener to the team’s front office. Bringing Luka back to the parent squad certainly would not hurt a lot and can actually be the team’s asset later on.
Garza scored 30 points in each of his three recent appearances in the G-League, and it is possible for him to do the same in the NBA if only he were given more time on the court.
Luka’s presence can add more height for the Wolves as well, which if maximized, can help in defending the ball and giving more space for the shooters to create and run crafty plays.
Apart from these, he can also give Gobert a run for his money as Luka is not just a good defender but is an efficient shooter as well, something the three-time NBA Defensive Player of the Year sometimes struggles with.
With these being said, the Wolves can definitely look into bringing Luka back to Minnesota and giving him more minutes on the floor. After all, his stats speak volumes and talents like this should not be wasted.
Iowa product Luka Garza, who is establishing himself as a star in the G-League, dropped a season-high 33 points in his first game vs his old team last night. (Iowa Wolves) Garza now has five 30-point games this season. 🔥 #NBAGLeague
— OutOfSightSports🚀™️ (@OOSSports) December 2, 2022
With KAT’s injury among other rough spots hurting Minnesota’s playoff chances, giving more minutes to Garza can be a smart gamble. Anyway, he has been impressive since his addition to the team and has always delivered every time he stepped on the court.
The Minnesota Timberwolves, along with Luka Garza, will attempt to add another win to their collection as they face the ever-gritty Oklahoma City Thunder on Saturday at the Target Center.
Credits on Featured Image: Marc-Grégor Campredon, CC BY 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons