Head coach coach Luke Walton featured a lot of David Nwaba in the Los Angeles Lakers film session on Thursday morning, after an unexpected win over the San Antonio Spurs, where they led by as many as 26 points. Nwaba’s defense and overall activity (to go along with 10 points, five rebounds, an assist, and a steal off the bench) was a big part of the reason the Lakers pulled off the win.
The only thing was, Nwaba wasn’t actually there for the team’s film session. Instead, the latest Laker brought up from the NBA D-League on two 10-day contracts before being signed for the rest of the season, was prepping for the Los Angeles D-Fenders playoff game against the Rio Grande Valley Vipers, in Hidalgo, Texas. That’s right, as the Lakers were escorted to their charter plane back to Los Angeles, Nwaba hopped in a car and faced the three and a half hour drive down to South Texas.
You won’t hear Nwaba complain about it.
‘I’m young,’ the 24-year-old told Spectrum SportsNet before his 210 minute drive south.
And, he’s expected to play in Friday’s game, back in Los Angeles against the Sacramento Kings. And then, on Saturday for Game 2 of the D-League playoffs. And if the D-Fenders continue winning, then it’s back to Hidalgo, Texas for Game 3 Monday.
“He’s got a triple-header ahead of him,” Walton smiled. “We’ll see how he feels tomorrow. It could turn into a long weekend for him, AAU style basketball, and he was really good for us too, but we expect him to play again.”
“It doesn’t seem like he cares about anything but winning and playing defense, really,” Walton said Thursday. He’s so committed to what he’s doing on the defensive end for us, that it’s really clear to see what the game is like when he’s out there and he’s not.”
That’s the type of mentality Walton hopes the entire team can adopt, using examples of Nwaba in the film sessions to show what they need from the rest of the players.
“We do, we try to, we show it in film,” Walton said about using Nwaba’s style of play in film sessions. “We showed a lot of the work he was doing in the film session today. I think day after day, game after game, film session after film session, not only him, but what he does, will rub off on some of the other guys.”
“Obviously there’s guys playing last night, that are playing for their jobs, they don’t have contracts next year, they know there’s a new front office that’s trying to figure out what direction we’re going to go in, and they played like it. They played hungry. They definitely played last night with a freedom that’s good to see.”
The L.A. native is shooting 56.5% from the field in 18 games with the Lakers, scoring a career-high 19 points (6-9 FG) against the Clippers to start the month.