Houston Rockets Trade Value #3: David Nwaba
David Nwaba and Jae’Sean Tate are near identical players in many regards. Both are excellent defenders, both finish at the rim with authority, and both are spotty 3-point shooters.
What separates the two is that Nwaba’s defense has graded out as superior this season, although just slightly, and he has a longer NBA track record. When teams dish out assets for players they like to know exactly what they’re getting and Tate is still somewhat of an unknown.
Every season of Nwaba’s career his on-off net per 100 possessions rating has been positive. In simple terms, wherever and whenever he has played he has made his team better.
Nwaba’s ability to make his teams better largely comes down to two factors, his versatility, and his decision making. Throughout the totality of his career, he has played every single position on the court.
While Nwaba’s minutes at point guard and center have been scarce, his ability to credibly play multiple positions allows for coaches to be more creative with their lineups and schemes when he’s on the court. In a playoff series, that type of versatility is a major difference-maker.
His decision-making doesn’t show up through gaudy assist numbers but rather from the types of shots he takes. For his career, he has taken 86.8-percent of his shot at the rim or behind the arc, which, statistically, are the two most valuable shots.
Nwaba’s contract, in terms of trade value, is a double-edged sword. He’s only set to make $1.8 million this season, which is good, but he is also on an expiring deal. Nwaba is an excellent player that can fit into just about any team’s budget but he won’t be around for long, at least not at that price.
If the Rockets made Nwaba available today they could get a first-round pick and a little more for his services. A team like the Denver Nuggets, who could use defensive help but wants to hold onto some assets for the future, would make a lot of sense.
It is entirely possible that the Rockets want to keep Nwaba around long term and won’t even entertain the idea of trading him. However, if the season continues to head in the wrong direction then the Rockets should be prudent and move Nwaba for all that he’s worth.
Nwaba is an excellent player but he is most valuable to a contending team. He is a player that makes your team better, if you’re tanking, he has no place on your roster.