It has been a long and difficult season for the Los Angeles Lakers, but there have still been some silver linings. Nick Young resurrected a career just when it looked like he would be waived, Brandon Ingram has turned the corner since the All-Star break, and rookie center Ivica Zubac proved himself to be a draft-day steal.
However, perhaps the most inspirational story of the Lakers’ season is that of David Nwaba, who wasn’t even drafted into the D-League but managed to hustle his way onto the D-Fenders and then was called up to the big leagues, where he earned himself a two-year contract. On a Lakers team that is currently second-to-last in the NBA in defensive rating, Nwaba’s defensive capabilities are sorely needed. Head coach Luke Walton recently praised Nwaba’s impact to Tania Ganguli of the Los Angeles Times:
“It doesn’t seem like he cares about anything but winning and defense really,” Walton said of Nwaba. “… He’s getting more comfortable offensively but he’s so committed to what he’s doing on the defensive end for us. It’s really clear to see what the game is like when he’s out there and when he’s not.”
Nwaba’s Cinderella story has certainly been enjoyable to watch as the Lakers’ season slowly comes to an end. His tenacity and hustle is contagious, and thanks in part to his efforts, the team is currently on a three-game win streak, although that isn’t necessarily the best thing for their draft lottery odds.
One of the drawback’s to Nwaba is that he offers no floor spacing. Nearly all of his shots come at the rim off of drives and cuts to the basket, and he’s shooting 2-of-10 outside the paint. If he can eventually develop a respectable outside shot over the summer, Nwaba could make the leap from defensive specialist to impact player.