Twenty-five-year-old forward Wenyen Gabriel is garnering a lot of attention from LA Lakers fans as the team plays the Sacramento Kings in their preseason opener. With the Lakers ending the first half of the game with a 46-41 lead over the Kings, Gabriel appears to be a quality contributor to the team's efforts so far.
Wenyen Gabriel is a third-year player coming out of Kentucky. After making his debut for the Sacramento Kings in the 2019-20 season, Gabriel found himself making rounds around several teams in the league.
Having played for two teams in his rookie season, Gabriel went on to play for the New Orleans Pelicans in the 2020-21 season. In the span of time, he played 21 games and put up an average of 3.4 points and 2.6 rebounds per game.
After finishing the 2020-21 season with the New Orleans Pelicans, Gabriel saw himself move to several teams again. Switching between four teams in his third year in the league, he eventually landed with the LA Lakers.
While his initial contract with the Lakers was a ten-day contract, this was gradually extended to a rest-of-season contract. In his short time with the team last season, Gabriel showed a lot of hustle and rebounding upside.
After notching an average of 6.7 points and 4.3 rebounds per game in 19 appearances, Wenyen Gabriel garnered some attention from the front-office. This led to him earning a two-year, $1.9 million deal with the side.
While Gabriel doesn't offer a lot on the offensive side of things, he finds a way to contribute with his rebounding and defensive effort. Given his repertoire, he could find himself playing an important role in Darvin Ham's system.
Wenyen Gabriel's performance in the preseason opener and role going forward
The preseason opener happens to be the ideal place to test out the young talent on the LA Lakers' roster. In this regard, Wenyen Gabriel has had a fairly consistent performance against the Sacramento Kings.
Having received only twelve minutes of playing time in the game so far, Gabriel notched six points and six rebounds for the team. He also made one steal and four blocks, showing his defensive abilities.
Although Gabriel hasn't been given the green light to run offensive plays on his own, he has done a solid job of moving around. His activity in and around the paint has been particularly noteworthy.
While he has shown some sparks of improvement, he is likely to remain a rotation player in the regular-season.
That being said, Gabriel offers up a lot of flexibility in terms of size and effort on both ends of the floor. Filling out the roster in the power forward position, he could easily earn more playing time with consistent effort.