The Los Angeles Lakers injected some youth and athleticism into their roster, signing fourth-year forward Wenyen Gabriel to a two-way deal earlier this week.
Gabriel has struggled to find his place in the NBA since entering the league as an undrafted rookie in 2018. Having played for five different teams, he has never featured in more than 21 games for any of them. In 2021-22, Gabriel has made seven appearances for the Brooklyn Nets and L.A. Clippers, averaging 2.0 points, 2.1 rebounds, and 0.3 assists.
However, the 24-year-old forward believes the experience he’s gained, combined with his athleticism, pace, and defensive skills, can help the Lakers this season.
“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.”
Gabriel thinks the Lakers can still embark on a solid playoff run, even though they ranked ninth in the Western Conference with a 27-34 record ahead of his debut. The Kentucky alum adds that from his observations of the team, he thinks he can be a good fit with the Purple and Gold.
“From a distance, obviously, I watched every team and I feel like I can play there. I can help,” he said. “I think they need some more rebounding, some more energy. Obviously, they have all the talent in the world. People just question why they’re not winning. Sometimes it’s a matter of time, too. Things start clicking again.
“I think they just need more energy out there. Just getting on a run. They have everything that you need. It’s not over with. Still make a good playoff push. They have the best player in the world over there. A lot of pieces.”
LeBron James believes Lakers ‘still have a chance’ as long as 2021-22 is underway
James echoed Gabriel’s words on the Lakers’ season, saying he will believe the Purple and Gold can turn things around for as long as the ball is in play.
“Because we still have games to play,” James said following the Lakers’ five-point loss to the Mavericks when asked why he remains confident.
“Until you stomp me out, cut my head off and bury me 12-feet under, I got a chance. So that’s my confidence.”
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