While the 2022-23 season has been a rollercoaster ride for the Los Angeles Lakers, there have been some consistent bright spots on the team.
Among them is the play of Wenyen Gabriel, who went from an afterthought to a key cog in the Lakers’ rotation. Gabriel’s size, energy and motor have been a saving grace for Los Angeles, who has needed him on the floor to help stabilize lineups and even go on pivotal runs.
Against the Dallas Mavericks, Gabriel was his usual self on both ends of the floor and even came up with clutch baskets near the end of regulation and in the overtime periods. Gabriel would finish the night with 14 points and seven rebounds, playing 33 minutes total. When discussing playing in the closing lineup, Gabriel chalked it up to finding ways to contribute and is looking forward to building on his performance.
“Yeah, my name was called tonight and I always come prepared to play defense with an edge like I do. Try to find my niche in the offense and my teammates were finding me today and I was able to help the team to give us a chance to win. So hopefully I can continue to build off of that as well.”
As far as what he believes the Lakers could’ve done differently to win, Gabriel noted getting the ball out of Luka Doncic’s hands earlier in possessions. “I think we made some good adjustments defensively with the way we were guarding Luka. Maybe we could have gotten the ball out of his hands late in the game. If we got it out of his hands earlier, maybe that’s one thing we could’ve done differently.”
Darvin Ham would seem to agree with Gabriel’s assessment as the head coach regretted not blitzing Doncic at the end of regulation. Regardless of the tactical miscue, the Lakers had opportunities to close out the game but still fell short.
There aren’t many moral victories to be had this time of the year for the Lakers, but Gabriel’s strong play as of late at least provides some hope that the team will be able to compete with the best once their injury luck turns around. For now, Gabriel and the team must turn their attention to another tough game on Sunday against the Philadelphia 76ers.
Wenyen Gabriel’s contract guaranteed for rest of 2022-23 season
Gabriel was on the roster bubble heading into the 2022-23 season, but he has transformed himself into a legitimate rotation piece. As such, the Lakers reportedly did the correct thing by guaranteeing his contract for the rest of the year.
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