Garza Turning Feedback Into Results

Adam Hensley

At this point, it’s clear Luka Garza has legitimate interest from NBA teams. Garza received an invitation to the NBA Draft Combine and he and his father have spoken with numerous teams.

However, no decision has been made.

Garza will reportedly make his decision to keep or withdraw his name from the NBA Draft pool on August 2. Until then, Hawkeye fans will play the waiting game.

But Garza continues to put in work. He’s dedicated his whole offseason to changing his diet and focusing specifically on what he needs to improve in order to succeed at the next level.

Finding an open gym in a global pandemic

Right as Garza’s season came to a screeching halt back in March, he got to work in the gym. But finding a gym to accommodate his offseason workouts wasn’t easy, given the fact that it started (and still is) in the middle of a global pandemic.

Initially, when gyms were open, Luka’s father Frank wanted to keep things as safe as possible. The two wanted to minimize their chances of COVID-19 exposure as best as possible, and that meant making special accommodations — they wanted their own court and they didn’t want anyone around.

“So we show up and there’s 35 people there wanting to talk to Luka,” Frank Garza said. “I left Luka in the car. I said, ‘Guys, either I’m leaving or you guys all have to leave. That’s not what we agreed to.’ We washed the floor, we washed the balls. We take care of it better than when we got it. But, going into it, it was tough.”

And it got tougher still, with gyms shutting down. Back in his home state of Maryland, Luka Garza wanted to get better, even if it meant practicing on hoops with their rims covered.

“We worked on rebounding because guess what? Every shot missed,” Frank Garza laughed. “We got to work on footwork, rebounding. Anyone who wants it, you can’t stop them. You can’t stop the Garzilla from wanting to get better.”

Working on feedback from NBA teams

Luka Garza knows what he needs to get better at if he wants a shot in the NBA. In conversations with teams, Frank Garza learned what teams did and didn’t like with his son.

Teams loved his motor, his offensive efficiency, his ability to rebound, and even his character off the court.

“They talked to his teachers, his AAU coach, and found out Luka would read to this class, he was a math tutor over here - they liked that,” Frank Garza said.

But teams also have question marks about solidifying his outside game and his defensive ability, and that’s exactly what Luka Garza’s been working on since he last suited up for Iowa.

Frank Garza said that Luka Garza is at a point where he’s capable of shooting from 30 feet consistently.

“He’s the best big man shooter playing today, and that means the NBA as well,” Frank Garza said. “There’s some European guys that can shoot it pretty good, too, that he would have to compete with, but in the NBA today, bang right now, he’s the best big-man shooter.”

Defense, though, has been the main thing Luka Garza’s worked on, specifically how he moves laterally. Teams have questioned his effectiveness in switching on pick-and-roll defense.

With the NBA's move toward a small-ball league, traditional big men aren't the hot commodity they were 20 years ago. Now, power forwards and centers must stretch the floor and defend along the perimeter.

In turn, one of Luka Garza’s biggest on-court changes has been in how he balances weight on his feet in an attempt to avoid being caught flat-footed on defense.

“He’s now become a professional jump-roper,” Frank Garza said. “Like boxing, how you stay on your feet is by having the balance of your weight on the upper part of your toes…. You can’t react flat-footed.”

For additional content, follow Adam Hensley on Twitter @A_Hens83.

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