2022-23 Los Angeles Lakers Player Review: Wenyen Gabriel
Wenyen Gabriel, Lakers
Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

The Los Angeles Lakers opted to keep Wenyen Gabriel around after a strong showing during the latter part of the 2021-22 NBA season. In 2022-23, he built on his success by bringing energy and effort off the bench as the team’s small-ball backup center.

Gabriel was oftentimes undersized in matchups against true centers, but found a way to make up for it with strong positioning and a relentless effort on the boards. He was also strong in transition with his athleticism at 6’9″.

With Anthony Davis injured for a short portion of the season, Gabriel got plenty of opportunities during the regular season to make an impact. He played in 68 of the team’s 82 regular season games and even made the starting lineup in two contests.

He averaged 15.1 minutes per game and was an efficient 64.7% from inside the 3-point line. While his stats don’t jump off the page, there is no denying the impact he had on both ends of the floor during his limited opportunities.

Gabriel was not a part of the postseason rotation, playing in 10 of the team’s 16 games but only averaging 3.7 minutes per contest. With players like Jaren Jackson Jr., Kevon Looney and Nikola Jokic, Gabriel likely would not have been a positive contributor in those series’.

2022-23 Highlight

Gabriel’s best performance of the 2022-23 season came in a mid-January contest against the Houston Rockets. The Lakers were without Davis, meaning Gabriel and Thomas Bryant had to step up and work against the Rockets formidable young center Alperen Sengun.

Gabriel was up for the task. He played 24 minutes in an eight-point Lakers victory and scored 14 points on 5-for-8 from the field to go along with nine rebounds, a steal and two blocks. He was a plus-15 for the game. He certainly made his impact known and showed the type of player he can be at his best.

2023-24 Outlook

Gabriel enters unrestricted free agency after the end of his two-year deal with the Lakers. He’ll have to test the market to see what kind of deal he can command, but it’s likely that he remains a veteran minimum player for the near future.

The Lakers may opt to bring him back. If he is a veteran minimum, the Lakers will not need to worry about the salary cap or any tax aprons to re-sign him, unless of course they are hard-capped and close to the tax apron. Either way, Gabriel’s mentality and physical frame should afford him another NBA opportunity.

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