Former Kentucky forward Wenyen Gabriel made sure to make the most of every second he was on the court during the 2018 NBA Summer League.
After going undrafted, the Sacramento Kings picked Gabriel up for their Summer League roster and he did not disappoint, averaging 6.8 points and 5.6 rebounds in 16.4 minutes per game across five games in Las Vegas.
Following a minor injury to the Kings number two overall draft pick Marvin Bagley III, Gabriel saw an uptick in his minutes for the four remaining Summer League games that the Kings played in Las Vegas. Starting with an eight-point, 10 rebound game against Shai Gilgeous-Alexander and the Los Angeles Clippers, Gabriel showed confidence in his first significant playing time as a member of the Kings.
The next game he tallied only four points and four rebounds in 15 minutes, but the final two games were the ones that had social media buzzing. A 15-point outing on 5-6 shooting against the Cleveland Cavaliers was followed up by a seven-point, 10 rebound performance against the Golden State Warriors in 25 minutes of action. What really piqued the interest of social media – including the Sacramento Kings Twitter account – was the massive dunk he threw down on Marcus Derrickson of the Warriors.
WENYEN, DO YOU LOVE ME?! pic.twitter.com/vKNlptFy4C
— Sacramento Kings (@SacramentoKings) July 14, 2018
Add in an aggressive roar immediately after for good measure.
A few days ago, John Calipari dropped what may have been a hint about Gabriel potentially landing a guaranteed contract. Whether or not Cal was speaking in hyperbole is something we will eventually find out, but it’s high praise either way. As I wrote about last month, Gabriel has a legitimate chance to make it in the NBA one day. Sacramento was the fifth team to bring him in for pre-draft workouts/interviews and they look to be the team most infatuated with him. Unfortunately, Sacramento isn’t exactly known for their fantastic player development (quite the opposite actually) so the overall fit is questionable, but a two-way deal or training camp invitation seems like a real possibility. For Gabriel, just getting on an NBA roster this early would be a major win.
He has the connection with former teammate De’Aaron Fox along with the Kentucky connection between Willie Cauley-Stein and Skal Labissiere. The Kings appear to be big fans of the players Kentucky pumps out, so them signing Gabriel to some sort of deal post-Summer League shouldn’t be a surprise.
He’ll have plenty of work to do if he wants to see any on-court action by the time the season begins, but his Summer League debut couldn’t have gone much better.