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NBA Free Agency: Wenyen Gabriel and Sindarius Thornwell sign minimum deals with New Orleans Pelicans

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These two signings should be the finishing touches to the roster, once Brandon Ingram and Kira Lewis Jr. are officially brought on board as well.

Portland Trail Blazers v Los Angeles Lakers - Game Two Photo by Kim Klement-Pool/Getty Images

Free agents Wenyen Gabriel and Sindarius Thornwell have come to terms with the New Orleans Pelicans, both signing minimum deals, per ESPN’s Andrew Lopez.

As a rookie, Gabriel appeared in 30 games during the 2019-20 season, 11 with the Sacramento Kings and then another 19 with the Portland Trail Blazers. Although he appeared in only 235 total minutes, Gabriel’s per 36 minute data tantalizes: 9.7 points, 8.0 rebounds, 1.7 steals and 1.1 blocks. He nearly shot 70% from the free throw line and did attempt 20 three-pointers (made six), too.

The stats entice; however, Gabriel stands out in my mind because we witnessed his combination of size, athleticism and some skills shine for a brief moment on the big stage in the Orlando bubble.

The 6’9 power forward made news in the first round of the 2020 playoffs when the Trail Blazers shocked the Lakers in game 1 with a 100-93 victory. Gabriel was handed the starting defensive assignment on Anthony Davis and many pointed to his effort as being one of the deciding factors in the win over Los Angeles.

This 22-year-old feels like a smart flier to take on, right? In just this video alone, Gabriel exhibits good energy; despite the abundance of fouls, displays active feet to stay with Davis; and seems to have some solid feel for the game, showing aptitude in several situations (timely passes, using the rim smartly to shield a potential shot-blocker and sprinting past AD once the team rebound was secure, knowing an easy two points was up for grabs).

Sindarius Thornwell, on the other hand, should be much more familiar to Pelicans fans. He appeared in several bubble scrimmages and two restart games for New Orleans, posting regular season averages of 8.0 points, 2.0 rebounds and 2.0 assists. Despite the limited run, I came away impressed.

There’s a certain headiness to his play that you like and wish Kenrich would exhibit. Thornwell appears a good decision-maker and looks to score when the opportunity presents itself while the motor is always switched in the on position. If that outside shot is falling, he feels like a guy who’ll fill up a box score, but it’ll never be empty calories.

I know we’ve barely caught a glimpse of him on the floor, but Thornwell has piqued my curiosity so much so that I hope the front office intends to keep him around the organization. Please at least give him another look in the next training camp.

For a much more in-depth look at Thornwell, please give Preston’s article a read. It includes a thorough look into his background but also contains input from one of Thornwell’s previous NBA assistant coaches, Devan Blair.

The Pelicans’ roster now stands at 12 players, with Brandon Ingram and Kira Lewis Jr. awaiting official contracts, and Josh Hart a potential extension.

Looks like we’re just about done!

For more Pelicans talk, subscribe to The Bird Calls podcast feed on iTunes, Spotify, Stitcher or Google Podcasts. You can follow this author on Twitter at @OlehKosel.