Lakers News: Wenyen Gabriel Leaning On Previous Connections To Help Make Quicker Impact
(Photo by Adam Pantozzi/NBAE via Getty Images)

Wenyen Gabriel made his season debut for the Los Angeles Lakers on Thursday night. He played in the final four minutes of a blowout loss to the L.A. Clippers, scoring three points and grabbing three rebounds in that time.

Gabriel was brought in earlier this week on a two-way contract, replacing Sekou Doumbouya. As an athletic and big wing, Lakers coach Frank Vogel saw Gabriel as a full-time addition to the Lakers roster, likely not spending any time at the G League level.

For Gabriel, being on the Lakers means playing alongside a number of familiar faces, something he’s confident will be a benefit.

“Definitely… Malik [Monk] was my teammate in college. We came in as freshmen together, so that was good to see him over here,” Gabriel said. “And Anthony Davis, obviously I knew who he was before I went there. He’s come back to campus a few times. So I’ve met him a few times before I made it up here. Just being around them, it’s more welcoming.

“And obviously, I played with Trevor [Ariza] and Carmelo [Anthony] when I was in Portland against you guys in the bubble.”

Gabriel believes his mentorship from Trevor Ariza, specifically, is going to help him make a quicker impact on the Lakers.

“Trevor Ariza was my vet. He kind of helped me talk about his journey throughout his career. He’s been on multiple teams and kind of what’s keeping the main thing the main thing. Being fluid and being able to plug-in-play.

“Obviously, even this year, this is my fourth team this year. I’ve had a lot of 10-days. Just kind of being yourself. Having your own identity, having a niche and I think that makes it a lot easier to plug in wherever you go. You kind of do things that you do and I’m more of a compliment to different players. Just help the teams win.”

It’s unclear exactly what role Gabriel plays on the Lakers for the rest of the season. However, he could stand to learn plenty from Stanley Johnson, who also came in midseason and made an immediate impact as a defense-first, high-energy wing.

Given the way this season has gone, there is absolutely a chance for Gabriel to make his mark on this roster and be a rotation player for the remainder of the season. Especially with the injury to Anthony Davis, having big wings play alongside LeBron James can help to improve small-ball lineups.

When he does get his chance, sharing the court with former teammates and friends could be impactful for him and the Lakers.

Gabriel hoping to boost Lakers’ energy

When asked how he can help the Lakers, Gabriel understood the role he would be asked to play and what he’ll do to be impactful. “Things I normally already do,” Gabriel said, asked about L.A.’s expectations toward him.

“I play with a lot of energy. I rebound and I can spread the floor offensively. And also, I have more experience now. It’s my fourth year in the league. Just having young legs being able to get up and down the court. Talk defensively. The kind of spark that makes it contagious for the whole team.”

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