The search for a player who can check off the trifecta of “dribble, pass, shoot” is always ongoing for pro teams. If a player can perform all three skills at a reasonable level, every coach will salivate over the different ways the player can be utilized to torment an opposing defense. If that player has legitimate big man size, the potential for torment grows exponentially due to the rarity of such skills being paired with height and strength. This combination of skill set and size has Marquette’s Dawson Garcia piquing interest as an NBA prospect. With an inside-out game that can exploit defenders of almost all types and the unselfishness and awareness to also transition seamlessly into a linking cog role, Garcia is the model for strategic versatility in today’s NBA game.
The most well-established skill in Dawson Garcia’s arsenal is his ability to stretch the floor beyond the arc as a reliable catch and shoot threat . With his 6’10”+ height and high enough, quick release, the ability to ignore the vast majority of shot contests will allow for a healthy amount of good looks spotting up near the top of the key. While not expected to fly off pindowns and stagger screens, Garcia has displayed comfort with some shot versatility with his lefty stroke. He has shown the ability to take one or two dribbles to relocate and reconfigure rather than accept an unclean look, the willingness to bomb from multiple feet behind the arc to stretch defenses even more and the undervalued skill of acting as a transition trailer or wing spacer who can quickly reset his feet to knock down open shots.
However, the crown jewel of his shooting will likely be pick and pop situations as coaches more often desire these offensive sets that can really stress the popular drop and soft hedge pick and roll defensive coverages.
Better yet, Dawson Garcia can function as a switch coverage buster as well. Garcia loves to plow through smaller defenders in the paint to use his size and strength advantages to absorb contact and finish. This approach enables options for Garcia to present as a low post threat in favorable matchups, a box out priority when rebounding, and even an off-the-dribble bully slasher.
The real key for Garcia to make a leap as a dominant offensive player will be to apply those options against smaller defenders to NBA sized big men. The ability to punish size mismatches will always be valuable, but being able to avoid getting walled up inside the arc by NBA level strength and length can enable Garcia to be less reliant on being a stretch option in certain matchups.
In addition to his scoring, Dawson Garcia can benefit the offense as a ball mover. Garcia prefers to not waste much time when the ball touches his hands, as he is continuously proactive in taking the defense off guard. The willingness to keep the offense moving quickly allows Garcia to act as a great potential fit in many heavy motion offensive schemes as he has the mentality to keep the gears running, pick out cutters and shooters from the high post, or run dribble handoffs in a Bam Adebayo-esque fashion. Short roll playmaking is quickly becoming a highly demanded trait for pro bigs as a solution to aggressive pick and roll defenses. Although Garcia has not yet had many reps as a passer out of the short roll like he has out of the post, his dribbling comfort along with his quick decision making should allow room to grow into that skill if it gets encouraged. Nonetheless, while the decisiveness and assertiveness with which Garcia plays is a net positive, there are times when Dawson’s offensive decisions are a bit too predetermined, and what a second ago seemed like a good decision to fire a quick pass or quickly rip through for a drive should have been audibled to adjust to a reacting defense.
Despite issues with taking lumbering steps that close ground quickly but make turning directions slow and lacking elite explosion, Dawson Garcia has developed his body well in his career and should definitely not be treated as a stiff. Passing the athletic threshold makes Dawson a viable cog in a defense, thanks to his good sense of accountability and communication for defensive assignments. As he gets older, Garcia will learn to anticipate offensive actions even sooner and apply his offensive proactive mindset and physicality to the defensive end, but the foundation is set nicely for him.
Ultimately, Dawson Garcia should have a great opportunity in this season’s Big East conference schedule to test his limits against several quality big men as he learns to adjust to elite competition. With the versatility Garcia has already displayed in Minnesota high school basketball and the brief Marquette stint, Dawson may find those limits far out on the horizon. If so, before long, Garcia will be doing the same test against actual professional athletes with exhausted NCAA front lines lying in his wake.