Rockets award rookie Usman Garuba to NBA G League affiliate

Rookie forward Usman Garuba, who was selected by the Rockets 23rd in the first round of the 2021 NBA Draft, is assigned to the Rio Grande Valley Vipers – the Houston G League affiliate.

The 6-foot-8 Spanish rookie has only played sparingly at NBA level this season. In seven games, mostly in blowout cleaning, the defensive-minded forward is averaging 1.7 points and 2.6 rebounds in 6.4 minutes. As such, it makes sense for the Rockets to send him to the Vipers, where playing time and extra touches could presumably help the 19-year-old’s long-term development.

Starting Saturday, November 20, the Vipers have a five-game homestand over an eight-day span, which could allow Garuba to enjoy extended playing time without ever having to leave the state.

Rookie goalie Josh Christopher, who was drafted a pick after Garuba, would also appear to be a potential short-term candidate to join the Vipers. However, given the uncertain availability of playmaker Kevin Porter Jr. due to a lingering left thigh contusion, the Rockets are keeping Christopher with the NBA team for now.