INDEPENDENCE — Coach Larry Drew acknowledged that the Cavaliers have very few athletes like David Nwaba.
So even if guard Kyle Korver returns Monday from a sore right foot as Korver expects, Drew said that won’t bump Nwaba from the rotation at Detroit.
“We’ll find a way to get David in there because he brings too much for the table,” Drew said.
Nwaba has totaled 29 points and 12 rebounds in the past two games, shooting 12-of-17 from the field.
A 6-foot-4, 219-pound guard, Nwaba sat out four of the first 10 games, three of those before coach Tyronn Lue was fired. In part precipitated by a rash of injuries at the 4 spot, Nwaba’s minutes have climbed steadily the last four games, with a season-high 29 coming Wednesday at Washington.
Nwaba essentially bet on himself when he signed a one-year, $1.5 million contract with the Cavs and now may be getting the chance he sought.
“He’s got a deceptive athleticism,” Drew said after practice Friday at Cleveland Clinic Courts. “When you look at him you can see that he’s kind of stocky and he’s real put together. But when he gets to the rim, he can make athletic moves. Yeah, we don’t have many of those.”
Nwaba, 25, played 20 games with the Los Angeles Lakers in 2016-17, then landed in Chicago, where he saw action in 70 games with 21 starts. He thought the Bulls were going to keep him, but they rescinded their qualifying offer.
“I’ve always liked David from afar,” Drew said. “You feel his presence when he’s out on the floor, whether he’s doing something on the offensive end or whether he’s doing something on the defensive end.
“I like the attitude that he brings as far as taking a challenge to whoever he guards. I don’t care who it is. He may score on you, but he’ll step up to the plate and take the challenge. I admire that about any player that will do that.”
Nwaba, 25, said he’s been getting good vibes from the Cavs of late.
“I think the biggest thing is just having positive people around me that know what I bring to this team and I know what I bring as well,” he said after Tuesday’s victory over the Charlotte Hornets. “It’s important to just wait for my time and be patient.”
Nwaba remained aggressive even when playing power forward in the absence of Kevin Love (left foot surgery), Sam Dekker (sprained left ankle) and Cedi Osman (back spasms). Osman returned at Washington and contributed four points, five rebounds and three assists in 23 minutes.
Even though he’s not used to the 4 position, Nwaba said he likes the challenge of playing against bigger guys.
“Yeah, I think I’m a little bit quicker, maybe a little bit stronger. I just bring the quickness and [am] able to hold my own,” Nwaba said.
About those turnovers
The Cavs committed a season-high 23 turnovers in the loss to the Wizards and their average of 15.5 per game was tied for 24th in the league going into Friday’s action.
“We don’t want to take away our guys’ aggressiveness to do things, but they can’t try the high-risk plays that you may try at home because Washington is built for those type situations,” Drew said. “We tried too many risky passes. We run a lot of dribble handoff and we tell our guys, ‘If the handoff’s not there, don’t try to risk it. Go play with somebody else.’ But we didn’t do that.
“We have to be a little more mindful of what we’re able to do against teams that gamble, teams that reach a lot, that what we call blow-up the dribble handoffs. You have to do things harder, you have to do things with more precision. You can’t wilt to the pressure. All it takes is a short stretch of a game for that to happen and you find yourself in a deficit.”
Korver said he tweaked his right foot while exercising in the preseason and agreed with the medical staff’s decision to take advantage of a break in the schedule to rest for the past two games.
“It’s been lingering a little while. Decided to nip it in the bud and kind of be done with it,” Korver said. “I feel really good. Ready to go.”
Marla Ridenour can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Read the Cavs blog at www.ohio.com/cavs. Follow her on Twitter at www.twitter.com/MRidenourABJ.