Luka Garza is in win-win situation with Timberwolves
The former Hawkeyes standout will play in Iowa when he is assigned to the G League team.By Kent Youngblood Star Tribune
October 17, 2022 — 7:43pm
Whether he's here with the Timberwolves or with the Iowa Wolves of the G-League, Luka Garza feels like he's in the perfect situation.
A free-agent forward, the former national and Big Ten player of the year signed with the Wolves in August. After a strong training camp, Garza's contract was converted by the Wolves into a two-way deal; teams are allowed two players on two-way deals. Eric Paschall is the other Wolves two-way player.
"It was incredible,'' said the 6-11 Garza. "I was very happy to have come in here with a goal. Many goals. But that was the first step for me. That was the first goal to accomplish. And now it's on to the next one. I think the biggest thing is that I've loved it here since the moment I got here.''
For Garza, it's the perfect fit. When he's with the Wolves, he'll get to observe and learn from Karl-Anthony Towns and Rudy Gobert. When he's in Iowa, he'll be working in the state he's adopted as his second home.
"The coaching staff, the system, the players, everything kinds of fit me really well,'' said Garza, who was the national player of the year as a senior at Iowa, scoring 24.1 points per game with 8.7 rebounds. "For a young big in this league there is no better environment to be in, with the best offensive big in the league and the best defensive big man. What better guys to learn from?''
"That was one of the draws to coming here. Being able to develop my game, but to do it in a place that is basically my second home,'' Garza said. "I'm from [Washington] D.C., but now it feels like I'm from Iowa. So I'm super excited.''
Garza was drafted by Detroit in the second round of the 2021 draft. He appeared in 32 games with the Pistons last season, starting five, averaging 5.8 points and 3.1 rebounds. He also averaged 20.6 points in 16 games with Detroit's G-League franchise, the Motor City Cruise.
"Congrats to him, first and foremost,'' Wolves coach Chris Finch said. "He did a really good job. He earned it. This is a great system [for him]. He can shoot, he can score in the post. What I like about him is that his decision-making without the ball is really high-level. He knows where to screen, where to be, how to create movement. In our offense that's really important.''
Garza appeared in four preseason games, averaging 7.3 points and 2.3 rebounds in 8.0 minutes.
He does appear to fit in well with a system that likes to run a lot of the offense through the bigs.
"Whether it's screen-setting, or delay action, whatever the case may be, the bigs can really dictate a lot of the flow and pace within our offense,'' Garza said. "Me being a guy who can stretch the floor but also score inside, I can pass a little bit; I'm working on that part of the game.''
That is one of the skills the Wolves want Garza to work on, either here or in Iowa.
"I'm a guy who has always been a scorer,'' he said. "It's not like I can't pass, but most of the teams I've been on my role was to score the ball. Now it's harnessing my ability to pass, make plays out of the pocket, in pick and roll.'