After the Lakers officially waived/bought-out Jose Calderon on Monday, they opened up a roster spot to potentially add another young player to get a closer look at (much like they did by trading Marcelo Huertas for Tyler Ennis). Well, they seem to be wasting no time in making said move by looking down to their D-League club, the D-Fenders:
The Los Angeles Lakers plan to sign guard David Nwaba of the L.A. D-Fenders on a 10-day contract, league sources tell @TheVertical.
— Shams Charania (@ShamsCharania) February 28, 2017
Nwaba was a name I mentioned when the discussions of Calderon’s potential release were surfacing, so adding him to the roster is not a huge surprise. That said, it’s nice to see the Lakers actually cull their D-League affiliate for looks at young players rather than using them only for send-downs of their own draft picks to get more playing time (a la Zubac this season).
As for Nwaba, he’s an intriguing talent for this specific Lakers’ roster because he is known first and foremost as a rugged, defense-first type of player.
If you're wondering about the type of player David Nwaba is, think Tony Allen. Not saying he's as good, but similar strengths & weaknesses.
— Laker Film Room (@LakerFilmRoom) February 28, 2017
The Lakers simply don’t have that type of guy on the team and giving him a chance to compete in practice and, potentially, on the court would give this team a different dynamic and be useful in certain situations. He’s a versatile defender who, at 6’4″, plays bigger than he is which lends itself to defending multiple positions.
As for his offense, Nwaba is more of a slasher who, like the comp to Tony Allen might imply, doesn’t shoot the ball very well and prefers to do his work in the paint:
— D-Fend The Hoop (@DFendTheHoop) February 28, 2017
As you can see from his shot chart, 91% of his field goal attempts have come in the restricted area. He’s not going to shoot the ball from range at all and while that has limitations on his upside (being able to hit the corner 3 would be huge for his staying power at this level), he’s probably worth a look anyway simply because of his defensive potential.
From the Lakers’ side, again, it’s good to bring in a guy with Nwaba’s skill set and as a 10-day contract there’s little risk here. If he doesn’t pan out, they send him right back to the D-League where he can continue to be influenced by the coaching staff the Lakers have hired and who teach what the parent club wants. Sounds like a win-win to me.