Former Syracuse University basketball standout Arinze Onuaku has been toiling in the NBA D-League for the last few years, before getting an extended audition for the NBA with the Minnesota Timberwolves. For his part, Arinze produced whenever he got on the court for Minnesota. But will it be enough to land him a roster spot next year?
Obviously, a six game sample size is pretty small. The 6-foot-9 forward made the most of his opportunity, though, averaging 4.5 points and 3.5 rebounds per game while getting just over 11 minutes per night. The most staggering number, of course, was his field goal percentage. Arinze always had a knack for putting the ball in the bucket at a high rate of efficiency, and that was evident in his six games with the Timberwolves.
Onuaku only attempted 14 shots in his six game stint, but he made 12 of those attempts. For those keeping score at home, that’s a ridiculous clip of 85.7%. Unfortunately he continued to struggle mightily the one place he’s always struggled: the free throw line. Arinze hit just 4-of-10 free throw attempts.
Naturally coming in at the end of a season isn’t going to give anyone in the front office the best idea of how effective someone can really be, because let’s face it, the final 5-10 games are basically as meaningful as the preseason for most teams. Heading into this past week and a half, only a handful of teams were still actually playing for anything, which means starters were being rested and players like Onuaku were getting what amount to tryouts.
For his trip to the League, Arinze played in four of the six games in which he was on the roster. He scored in three of those four games, with nine points and eight rebounds coming against New Orleans in a 22 point loss, and then closed out the season with 12 points and six boards in a 25 point loss at the hands of fellow former Orangeman Dion Waiters, who by the way, went off for a career best 33 points in the game last night.
It’ll be interesting to see if Onuaku will get to start out next season on a roster, because at some point you would have to think a general manager would see a 6-foot-9, 275 pound bruiser who just produces (he averaged a double-double in the D-League this year) and decide to give him a chance to earn his keep coming out of the preseason.