HOT TAKE ALERT!!!

HotTake

David Nwaba is the reincarnation of Jimmy Butler! Get Hyped Bulls Fans!!!

No, I know, David Nwaba is NOT Jimmy Butler, but he is certainly a solid basketball player on both ends of the court. He provides energy and skill on defense, speed and movement on offense, and he is an active rebounder-a good, all-around player.

David Nwaba returned to the Bulls lineup against the Sacramento Kings on Friday. He has mostly recovered from the brutal ankle sprain he sustained early in the season, an ugly injury that kept him out of the action for almost a month. He played just over 22 minutes in the one point loss to the Kings, scoring 9 points, grabbing 9 rebounds, while dishing out 5 assists.

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David Nwaba fouled on his way to the basket. Picture from The Associated Press

I like watching David Nwaba play. He is actually (relatively) young and (super) athletic. He is a smart basketball player; on a team bursting with brash potential, with players trying desperately to prove and improve themselves, David Nwaba plays within his limitations. He seems to know who he is and what he can do on the basketball court. He doesn’t try to do too much, he’s not struggling to find his role on the team, he shows up each game ready to contribute in the best way he can. He plays to his strengths and tries to avoid hurting the team with his weaknesses.

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The Cal-Poly days. Nwaba is super athletic. Picture from The San Luis Obispo Tribune.

Nwaba has had a slow and steady climb to the NBA. He has worked his way from being a star at Santa Monica College (2012-13 Western State Conference South Division Player of the Year, and named to the First Team All-California Community College Athletic Association), to Division I basketball at California Polytechnic State University. He went undrafted in 2016, but won a spot on the NBA D-League Los Angeles D-Fenders, and throughout the season found himself bouncing back and forth between the D-Fenders and the Los Angeles Lakers. By the end of the season he had earned a roster spot on the Lakers. On July 12th, Nwaba was inexplicably waived by the Lakers, and the Bulls pounced, claiming his contract rights on July 14th. After 6 regular season games with the Bulls, Nwaba became the starting shooting guard. He stayed healthy for 3 starts, breaking out for 16 points in the Bulls win against the Orlando Magic on November 3rd. The next day, Nwaba suffered an awful ankle sprain against the New Orleans Pelicans, and has been recovering ever since.

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Excellent on the ball defense is how David Nwaba has made his name in the NBA. In his short time with the Bulls, he is averaging about 2 steals and 1 block a game. Nwaba is a shooting guard capable of defending almost every position. While he is only 6’4”, his quickness, athleticism and strength catch a lot of opponents by surprise. He has also shown himself to be a good rebounder (6 per game) and capable of driving to the hoop, assaulting the basket on offense. He provides much needed interior scoring for the perimeter happy Bulls offense.

Jump shots are not a strength of Nwaba. This is where he shows the most maturity, humility, and self-understanding. He is not a great shooter, so he doesn’t try to be. He only takes mid-range and 3 point shots when it makes the most sense; He shoots when he is at a favorite spot on the floor, or when he is wide open. Unlike a lot of his teammates, he exercises restraint on offense, and his patience shows up in the stats: He is shooting over 53% from the field, with an Effective Field Goal Percentage of 55.6%, and a Player Efficiency Rating of 15.9 (just over the league average). David Nwaba is an overall positive for the Chicago Bulls.

 

With the return of Zach Lavine imminent, I doubt David Nwaba will find his way back into the Bulls starting line up, but he should be the Sixth Man on this rebuilding squad. I expect Nwaba to improve as a shooter, and I also expect he will continue to do what he does best – drive the lane, get easy buckets, rebound and defend like the Dickens. Is he a reincarnation of Jimmy Butler? No, but he works just as hard, and he continues to grow as a player, just like Jimmy G. Buckets did. (The G. stands for Gets).

Worst Records In The NBA:

1. Chicago Bulls: 3-18 .143

2. Atlanta Hawks: 5-17 .227

3. Dallas Mavericks: 6-17 .261

4. Sacramento Kings: 7-16 .304

5. Memphis Grizzlies: 7-15 .318