Wenyen Gabriel may not have joined the Lakers until late into the season, but the impression he made was enough to earn him another season in the purple and gold. According to Jovan Buha of The Athletic, the Lakers are expected to pick up Gabriel’s team option for the 2022-23 season.
Statistically, Gabriel’s season was modest to say the least. He averaged 6.7 points and 4.3 rebounds on 50.5% shooting overall. He was a streaky 3-point shooter, hitting 26.1% from beyond the arc.
But Gabriel’s impact was largely felt in the energy and effort he played with, partially an indictment on the rest of the roster while also being a credit to him as well. Gabriel’s aggressiveness was both his biggest strength and one of his biggest weaknesses as well as he played his way into just over 16.4 minutes per game late in the season but also averaged 3.0 fouls per game despite those limited minutes. Averaged out per-36 minutes, Gabriel averaged 6.6 fouls per game last year.
Late in the year, Gabriel was given what was called a two-year contract, but effectively covered the end of the 2021-22 season with an option for the 2022-23 campaign. It was a reward for his strong play and gave him the chance to remain with the same team across an off-season for the first time in his career. There are still many months left before the start of the season but the Lakers are offering a continuity that hasn’t existed previously in his NBA career.
While Gabriel’s role is almost certainly likely to be reduced next season from the one he played late last year, there are still far worse options to have toward the end of the bench than a young, energetic, athletic forward that has flashed an ability to stretch the floor as is the case with Gabriel.