David Nwaba: Rockets 2021-2022 Season Review

This year, I believe we all expected a little more from David Nwaba. Last season, he was a pleasant surprise, bouncing back from a once-fatal but now-common Achilles injury to play some of the greatest basketball of his career. With Nwaba another year gone from surgery, we were all expecting more of the same this season.

It’s not like we didn’t notice it. This season, Nwaba didn’t necessarily play worse. He just didn’t get much of a chance to play. Certainly insufficient to make a meaningful difference. Nwaba appeared in only 46 games this season, starting only four, and averaging just 13.2 minutes per night, or 9 minutes per game.

David Nwaba: Rockets 2021-2022 Season Review

He averaged 5.1 points, 3.3 rebounds, and 0.6 steals a game while shooting 48.3 percent from the field and 30.6 percent from outside the arc. Except for thefts, he was roughly on par with last season’s performance per minute, and he actually shot better from deep this year than last.

Rockets 2021-2022 Season Review

But one of Nwaba’s issues is that he is a below-average three-point shooter who has been for the majority of his career, which is a tremendous liability in today’s NBA. Another concern is that he isn’t a facilitator, so despite the shock of energy he provides, a swingman without a shot or playmaking ability will have a difficult time getting minutes, especially on a rebuilding club like the Houston Rockets, who need court time for their young players. Nwaba is more likely to work on a contender.

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This brings us to the 29-year-old’s plans. In 2022-2023, he’ll be paid another $5 million, although he only has a team option for the following year. He might be a great trade component for Houston this season, as there isn’t a clear path to long-term minutes as the team’s young players age and demand more court time.

Nwaba has been a good comeback story (though he’s still prone to injuries), but he was a player like Christian Wood who was expected and expected to play with James Harden and Russell Westbrook when the Rockets took a chance on him by signing him to a deal in the summer of 2020. That never happened, which is probably a good thing for both of them.

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