Photo credit: Fernando Medina/NBAE – Getty Images
In the 55 games David Nwaba has played in so far this season, he has only attempted double-figure field goal attempts three times — the latest of which came during the Bulls’ 112-106 loss to the Clippers on Tuesday night. Nwaba went 7-for-11 from the field to post 15 points in nearly 28 minutes, scoring from downtown, in transition and in the paint. He trailed only Bobby Portis and Kris Dunn — who had 19 and 18, respectively — in scoring.
Nwaba had made his name known in Chicago so far thanks to his defensive prowess. He would be so active that Stacey King, would often exclaim that there are five Nwabas on the court. King still exclaims that, but lately it hasn’t concerned just his defense.
With a spot in the Bulls’ rotation and extended minutes, Nwaba has had the chance to prove his worth on the offensive end.
Since returning from All-Star break, he has averaged 29 minutes per game — an increase from his pre-All-Star average of 21.5 minutes — allowing for consistent playing time. With the minutes increase, he has averaged 10.7 points since All-Star break, nearly four points better than what it was prior. He’s also shooting 57.7 percent from the field and a whopping 64.3 percent on 3-pointers.
Before the break, Nwaba didn’t consistently take 3-pointers. He attempted only 19 of them over the course of 45 games, so he never quite showed what his long-range shooting ability is like. In the eight games since All-Star weekend, though, he has gotten up at least one 3-pointer in all but one game, finally getting to show his capability to score from downtown. In fact, with his impressive 3-point shooting as of late, Nwaba’s currently the Bulls’ best 3-point shooter at 42.4 percent.
None of this is to say he’s going to become an elite 3-point shooter anytime soon, but it’s good he can offer such offense.
Not only that, but Nwaba has started all but two games since the break.The two games Nwaba didn’t start were ones in which Justin Holiday returned to the starting lineup after he had been inactive and the NBA issued a warning to the Bulls about it. So not only has he proven his ability to produce in extended playing time, but he can also be an effective starter, too.
Nwaba’s recent play has easily made him one of Chicago’s best players post-All-Star break. While such growth doesn’t favor tanking, it still bodes well for the Bulls’ future should they decide to keep Nwaba — which, according to the Chicago Tribune‘s K.C. Johnson, is the route they’re planning to take:
The Bulls can make (Nwaba) a restricted free agent and give themselves the power to match any offers he receives by making him a qualifying offer by late June, which they plan to do. I’d say it’s far more likely than not that he’s back with the Bulls.
With Nwaba’s defense and continued offensive growth, he’s a great fit for not only a rebuilding franchise but one whose fan base appreciates tough players, only making him a better fit for Chicago.
Ashley is the owner/editor of The Bulls Charge. Follow her on Twitter at @wijangco12.