The Lakers have announced they have picked up the team option on David Nwaba’s contract for the 2017-18 season. Nwaba is set to earn $1.3 million next season and, depending on what happens with the team’s depth chart, should be able to compete for minutes as a 4th or 5th guard in the rotation.
Nwaba had a fine close to the season last year after being called up from the D-League and signed to a 10-day contract. After signing a second 10-day deal, Nwaba stuck for the remaining of the season by signing a two year contract — with the option that was just picked up representing the 2nd year of that deal.
Ultimately, this was a smart move by the Lakers. Nwaba’s contract is about what would be paid to a veteran on a minimum deal and, as I wrote when looking at the Lakers free agency prospects, the team really needs depth on the wing. So, simply from those angles, Nwaba fills a need as a low salaried player who also fills a positional need.
Beyond that, Nwaba has an intriguing skill set that could stick in the league. He’s a fine defensive player, is excellent in transition, and is a plus athlete who understands how to be an off-ball threat as a cutter and slasher. His outside shot needs work — and how much he develops in that area will determine his staying power in the league — but his form is not “broken” and the hope is that he continues to work and improve in that area.
Even if he doesn’t, though, players of his ilk can have a long career in this league. If you’re willing to defend and can prove to do so at a high level, teams want you. So, I’m happy the Lakers have stuck with him and will invest more time into his development. With Magic, Pelinka, and Luke trying to build a culture of hard work and team play, Nwaba fits right in.