Chicago Bulls at Orlando Magic: Player of the game

ORLANDO, FL - NOVEMBER 3: David Nwaba /

The Chicago Bulls defeated the Orlando Magic in an impressive performance for just their second victory this season. Who stood out for the Bulls?

Now how about that for some basketball? Neither the Chicago Bulls or the Orlando Magic had much expectation coming into this season.

The Bulls, as anticipated, were off to a poor start this season, at 1-5. The Magic were off to a surprise 6-2 start to the season. However, on Friday night, it was the Bulls that looked like the surprisingly good team, as they knocked off the Magic in a 105-83 blowout.

Being that this was by far the Bulls best and most complete game that they have put together this season, they got some great contributions from a lot of players. Rookie Lauri Markkanen was great again with 13 points and 9 rebounds. He was also 3-4 from deep.

Justin Holiday shot over 40 percent from the floor for just the second time this season, and over 50 percent for the first time. Kris Dunn knocked down 3 three-pointers off the bench. Denzel Valentine put in 11 points, 4 rebounds, and 4 assists. Paul Zipser did… something. I think.

But the player I really want to focus on is David Nwaba. I really don’t want to get carried away with what I write about this guy, but man does he look like a legitimate player.

Nwaba finished with 16 points on 7-12 from the floor. He also added six rebounds, two steals, and a block. He led the team in plus/minus at +21, and guarded Orlando’s leading scorer Evan Fournier for most of the night.

I wouldn’t say his defensive performance was fantastic; Fournier put in 21 points on 17 shots and committed 3 turnovers. Though when you consider it with his offensive contributions, it’s certainly worth talking about.

The refreshing thing with Nwaba is that he’s starting to do some impressive things on a consistent basis. The last time I wrote about him, I marveled at his ability to score in transition. Nwaba has the athleticism and versatility to grab a rebound and take it the length of floor for a layup.

This year, Nwaba is scoring 1.33 points per possession in transition in limited sample size, per In a larger sample size from last season with the Lakers, Nwaba scored 1.29 points per possession in transition. That was in the 83rd percentile. He’s improved that number this season, and boy is it fun to watch.

The rest of Nwaba’s offensive potential is murky. He’s not much of a shooter; he was 0-2 on Friday which brings him to just 1-4 on the season. Last season, he was just 1-5 in almost 400 minutes, and he shot just 24 threes in three seasons of college basketball, making just four of them. It isn’t much of an option. You can tell from his form, too.

He’s shown some instinct as a cutter, and he could have some legitimate potential there (beautiful pass from Lauri, too!):

Last season, Nwaba scored 1.27 points per possession as a cutter, which was in the 55th percentile. So, he was ok. If he makes smart cuts, though, he has the athleticism to be able to finish over a lot of big men. Stay tuned on that one.

Where Nwaba’s real potential lies is on the defensive end. He blocked a shot on Friday night with an Andrew Wiggins-esque second jump:

And of course, he’s shown the instinct to jump passing lanes:

I don’t really know what Nwaba projects as as a player. Squint hard and you see a defensive stopper that could be a weapon on offense if he improves his jump shot. Squint even harder and you see a guy that could make a legitimate impact on legitimate teams. Regardless of what he is or becomes, he at least gives Bulls fans someone else that’s fun to watch for this season.