The Los Angeles Lakers made a pair of roster moves on Monday and while much of the attention went towards the signing of veteran point guard D.J. Augustin, the franchise also made a very intriguing move with the signing of Wenyen Gabriel to a two-way contract.
Gabriel is an extremely athletic forward who has bounced around the NBA over the past couple of seasons. He had stints in New Orleans, Portland, and Sacramento in 2020 and 2021 and this season has appeared in a handful of games with the Brooklyn Nets and Los Angeles Clippers.
The Lakers have had some success with their two-way players, showing the ability to develop players into rotation pieces and head coach Frank Vogel made it clear that Gabriel is someone the franchise has high hopes for.
“Wenyen [Gabriel] is someone that we have been high on,” Vogel said. “Someone we believe has upside as a really athletic 6’9” 3-and-D type player.”
Gabriel’s potential as a defender is extremely high given his physical attributes and high motor. In some ways, he is similar to Stanley Johnson, who earned himself a contract with the Lakers after originally signing a 10-day contract.
Normally players on a two-way contract split their time between the G League and the main roster, but Vogel doesn’t expect that to be the case for Gabriel. “My understanding is that he will be with us full time not really with the G League unless there are smaller stints that require that,” Vogel added.
“We will give him a look. Hopefully, we can get some practice time. We can see him and see what he can do up close in person. He has a skill set that fits what we need. The successful stints have been with Bron, Russ and AD and the younger energetic guys. We’ll have to see what Wenyen brings to the table, but it is possible that he get in the rotation.”
Any player who brings energy and effort on the defensive end of the floor is always someone who appeals to Vogel. As the Lakers head coach noted, the younger energy guys have fit well with the Lakers stars and Gabriel has the potential to fit in the Stanley Johnson/Trevor Ariza role.
In 10 games in the G League this season, Gabriel is averaging 16.8 points, 8.8 rebounds, and 2.1 blocks.
Vogel discusses what Augustin brings to the Lakers
Unlike Gabriel, who is young and still needs development, Augustin is a long-time veteran and Vogel believes he can contribute to the Lakers immediately.
“I like what he brings to the table. Not just with the off-ball ability to shoot the basketball and stretch the floor and give our guys more space, but when we play smaller lineups with AD at the five or LeBron [James] at the five… He’s a very, very good pocket pass and pick-and-roll playmaker. You have to go over his pick-and-rolls or he will beat you over the top… He can still go. I think he’s going to help us, we think he’s going to help us.”
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