Wenyen Gabriel has flourished since joining the Los Angeles Lakers in March.
Gabriel averaged 9.6 points and 4.8 rebounds over the last five games, making 50% of his shots overall and converting 25% of his triples. He set a new career-high in scoring during that stretch, chalking up 17 points in the overtime victory over the Toronto Raptors on an impressive 7-for-8 from the field.
The 6-foot-9 forward has thrived in the role of a big man who can stretch the floor, expanding the Lakers’ offensive repertoire. Head coach Frank Vogel said his team has greatly benefited from Gabriel’s unique skill set, as L.A. didn’t have a player of such a profile before the 24-year-old came in.
“His length and athleticism is something that we’ve lacked all season long in terms of having somebody like that that can still provide the floor spacing and the threat to knock down threes,” Vogel said.
“It’s something that we haven’t really had. He has the potential to really change things for us. Obviously, he’s a very young and inexperienced player. It’s a little unsettling to rely too much on him. So far, the minutes that we’ve given him or the games we’ve given him bigger minutes, he’s produced. We’ve had a different feel to us. It’s something that we’re optimistic about.”
Besides Gabriel’s skills, Vogel previously praised the forward’s hustle and energy he brings onto the floor. The head coach said the Kentucky product “plays super hard and has a pure attitude.”
Talen Horton-Tucker likes how Gabriel fits with Lakers
After seeing the forward’s determination in his first month with the Lakers, Talen Horton-Tucker joined Vogel in offering Gabriel some kind words.
“He’s great. Him coming in, not being here pretty much all year, so for him to come in and play hard like that is something that we needed, especially with him being a five and pretty much the only true big out there. Kudos to him,” Horton-Tucker said after the 114-103 loss to the Raptors.