The Bulls went to the waiver wire to look for guard depth and picked up David Nwaba last week, after he was waived by the Los Angeles Lakers just a few days prior. Nwaba only played 20 games for the Lakers, but was effective coming off the bench for Luke Walton’s squad.
With the rebuild in full effect, the Chicago Bulls need as many young players as they can get. Especially at the shooting guard position, with the return date of Zach LaVine still up in the air. Chicago needs some depth on the wings, and ideally it would be a young player who can potentially carve themselves a nice role. Well, the Bulls went out and addressed that.
Let’s take a look at what Nwaba can bring to Chicago.
Nwaba’s offensive game is very limited. He can’t offer much floor spacing, going 1-5 from three in his nearly 400 minutes for the Lakers. In fact, Nwaba isn’t much of a shooter at all. Out of his total 81 field goal attempts, 61 of them came at the rim and he only attempted two mid-range (10-15 feet) jumpers. It’s safe to say that if the ball is ever kicked out to him, he will always try to drive to the hoop or pass it out.
However, that also means there isn’t going to be a lot of times where you see Nwaba try to be someone he’s not and take an ill-advised shot. He takes limited attempts from the field and tries to work towards his offensive strengths, which is smart movement off the ball and taking it to the rim.
Given his limited ability to shoot, Nwaba has found other methods to be effective on offense. He plays well off the ball and is able to use an explosive first step to get straight to the rim. Nwaba shoots 65.6% at the rim and does a great job at going up strong. Although he won’t be a guy who can take over games, a player like Nwaba could beneficial when you have ball-dominant players elsewhere in your lineups. During his time in Los Angeles, Nwaba was also effective in cutting off the ball, most particularly on the baseline. It’s easy for defenses to forget about him so he just waits till his defender loses concentration and then cuts to the basket or puts himself in a good scoring position.
Although only 6’4, Nwaba has an amazing leaping ability. It makes for some great alley-oops and put-back dunks, including this one on Richard Jefferson.
Nwaba isn’t going to be an outstanding offensive player by any means. This isn’t a guy who is going to give you 15-20 points per game. But he knows his role and won’t try to do too much.
Defense is the side of the ball where Nwaba is really going to be of value for Chicago. He is a good on ball defender and will fight on every possession. He is aided by his 7-foot wingspan, which allows him to get his hands into passing lanes and disrupt plays. His foot speed is quick enough for him to cover up ground on a defender when beaten on a move or screened. His ability to guard multiple positions will certainly help out in pick and roll situations. Chicago struggled guarding explosive point guards last season and Nwaba could be used in a “defensive stopper” type role.
Nwaba’s leaping ability also comes in handy when it comes to contesting at the rim:
Above was a great defensive possession by Nwaba who is guarding one of the NBA’s best point guards in Kyrie Irving. It was a 1-5 pick and roll with Irving and Tristian Thompson involved in the offensive action. Nwaba does a great job of fighting through not one, but two screens set by Thompson. Julius Randle does a good job holding off Irving from getting an easy attempt at the basket, forcing Kyrie to take a step back and attempt a jumper. That’s where Nwaba comes rushing back on help defense and swats Irvings jumper. It’s a very impressive block and defensive recovery considering Nwaba was a couple of steps behind his man when the second screen was set.
Kris Dunn can’t be the only guard on the roster who can square up his man, fight over screens, and contest well at the rim. Nwaba will give much needed depth to a backcourt in desperate need of better defenders.
Overall, this is a very good signing for the Bulls. Nwaba’s contract is pretty cheap and at age 24, he fits the youth movement they are trying to incorporate. The sample size on him is very small, but in that time he did play pretty well. Nwaba won’t offer much offensively but is potentially an exceptional defender, and the ideal scenario is he turns out to be a solid bench contributor for the Bulls.