How 2-Time NBA Champion Hakeem Olajuwon Iowa Inspires Luka Garza

Published 02/18/2021, 3:00 PM EST
Feb 2, 2021; Iowa City, Iowa, USA; Iowa Hawkeyes center Luka Garza (55) reacts as Michigan State Spartans forward Julius Marble II (34) looks on during the first half at Carver-Hawkeye Arena. Mandatory Credit: Jeffrey Becker-USA TODAY Sports


Luka Garza may just end this season as Naismith Player of the Year. He has been the top pick for that award from the opening week of this season to today. While there are players like Ayo Dosunmu, Jared Butler, and Drew Timme also in the running, Garza still seems to be the favorite.

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Garza is a skilled big man who has a leg up on most of his opponents. He is averaging 24.5 points and 8.4 rebounds. Garza had revealed to The Athletic that he watched a lot of tape of old-school big-men growing up. One of his biggest influences, as a result, was Hakeem Olajuwon, and Garza broke down how Olajuwon is the inspiration behind his developing fadeaway shot.

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“It’s all about the footwork to begin the move. You have to create enough space with your dribble or your spin, or whatever you’re doing, to be able to get it off. Once you do have that space it’s a lot about touch when you get up there, and obviously (Olajuwon) had an incredible amount of touch, to shoot it like he did. But that’s the main thing — your footwork to get your space first because after that it’s all about just making the shot.”

Luka Garza: College basketball star with a deceptive ceiling?

Luka Garza is a top-star in the NCAA. However, will he be a big star when he makes it into the NBA? Garza is not projected to be a first-round pick in the 2021 NBA Draft, despite his stellar play this season.

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Dec 13, 2020; Iowa City, Iowa, USA; Iowa Hawkeyes center Luka Garza (55) controls the ball against the Northern Illinois Huskies during the first half at Carver-Hawkeye Arena. Mandatory Credit: Jeffrey Becker-USA TODAY Sports

Garza is a senior graduating from college, so he has older than a lot of players in the NBA already. Along with that, his game is considered mostly developed with not a lot of room for growth. While he can improve at other aspects, it doesn’t look like Garza will be a generational talent in the NBA.

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It will be interesting to see if Garza can make the transition well enough. If he is learning from Hakeem Olajuwon’s bag of tricks, he may just have a long NBA career as well.

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Ishaan Bhattacharya

1510 articles

Ishaan Bhattacharya is an NBA, NCAA Basketball, and Combat Sports writer at EssentiallySports. Currently, Ishaan is pursuing a Post Graduate Degree in Journalism from Xavier's Institute of Communication. Previously, Ishaan has written for The Indian Express, The Quint, Sportskeeda, and WrestleClub.

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