In spite of a rare mix of skills and deficiencies for the modern game, David Nwaba could offer the Milwaukee Bucks and others elite backcourt defense as he hits NBA free agency.
Who is David Nwaba?
A California native who went to college at California Polytechnic State University, David Nwaba just completed his second season in the NBA and is likely still flying under the radar for many.
Undrafted in 2016, Nwaba paid $150 the following September to attend a Reno Bighorns open workout in an attempt to earn a spot in the G League. That cost paid off and then some as Nwaba ultimately landed on the then Los Angeles D-Fenders, before impressing enough to earn a chance with their NBA affiliate, the Los Angeles Lakers.
Following two 10-day contracts, Nwaba signed a multi-year deal with the Lakers, only to be waived during free agency and quickly claimed off waivers by the Chicago Bulls.
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Last season in Chicago, Nwaba averaged 7.9 points, 4.7 rebounds, 1.5 assists, 0.8 steals and 0.4 blocks in 23.5 minutes per game, with shooting splits of .478/.346/.655.
An intelligent guard, capable of soaking up minutes at either backcourt spot, Nwaba leans on his natural length and athleticism to maximize his impact on the court. You could say that athleticism runs in the family as his sister, Barbara Nwaba, is a heptathlete who finished 12th in the event at the 2016 Olympics in Rio.
Nwaba is something of an anomaly among modern guards and wings as not only does he struggle from three-point range, but he rarely attempts jump shots at all. That hasn’t hindered the 25-year-old’s impact, though, and he impressed during his 70 games with the Bulls last season.
"“David’s the most versatile defender we have on our team. Whether he’s shooting the ball or not, whether he’s making shots or not, he’s still going to have a positive impact on the game. First and foremost because of his effort, which is a skill, to go out and play with that type of effort. And the other thing is defensively he’s always going to go out and battle.”"
With that in mind, let’s take a closer look at Nwaba’s game, potential fit with the Bucks, and whether he can realistically be stolen away from the Bulls in restricted free agency.