He's been bringing the energy and earning the love and respect from Rip City.
To go along with his first playoff game, it was also the first time Gabriel ever got a bloody nose.
"Bro. I can't believe Bron (gave me my first nosebleed ever)," Gabriel said while being mic'd up for TNT's broadcast.
Playing against LeBron is a big moment for any player. But, to get your first nosebleed EVER at the hands of King James. Epic.
But to think about where Gabriel started to where he is now in the NBA is something he doesn't take for granted.
He's been able to sit back and look at his current situation. Yet, he's not even close to being satisfied.
I'm proud, but I'm always pushing for more. I'm never satisfied. During the hiatus, I had a chance to shift my focus and really prepare for this, so we came in here with the mentality of we're trying to win it all… We have leaders that set the tone and we didn't come here to waste our time, so it's easy just to follow, in terms of the energy that they set -- the precedent, they lead by example a lot… But knowing where I came from and to be at the point where I'm at now it is a testament to the work and the work that you do on your mind, the work that you do on your body, and studying the game… It was a good moment for me yesterday, but it's something that I look forward to building off of. -- Wenyen Gabriel
The 6-9, 220 pound forward declared for the 2018 NBA draft, but went undrafted before joining the Sacramento Kings' Summer League team that year. In late July of 2018, he signed a two-way contract with the Kings, but he only played in the G-league that season.
Thus, the 2019-20 season is technically Gabriel's rookie year.
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Gabriel earned a contract with Sacramento prior to the 2019–20 season. It was on January 20, 2020, when Gabriel was traded to Portland along with Trevor Ariza and Caleb Swanigan in a deal that sent Kent Bazemore, Anthony Tolliver and two future second round picks to Sacramento.
Coincidentally, Gabriel made his debut for the Trail Blazers on January 31 down in LA against the Lakers. He went 0-for-3 from the field with one rebound, one assist and one block in 13 minutes as the Blazers defeated the Los Angeles Lakers 127-119.
Even though Gabriel couldn't believe that Kings James was the one to give him his first ever nosebleed Tuesday night, he wasn't in awe of playing the Lakers in the first round of the playoffs thanks to his previous experience in LA.
"I played against him earlier this year, so I had something to look back on and have some type of approach, I mean, I stayed in the game," Gabriel said after Wednesday's practice. "I had a certain assignment to guard Anthony Davis and just bring energy to the team and be myself. I feel like… it was simple to play the role -- simple in terms of what I had to do, but in terms of doing it -- it's not easy to do. It was a team effort... I went out there and I brought my energy and I just played my role."
The Blazers power forward played in a total of 30 games during the 2019-20 season, averaging 2.1 points and 1.7 rebounds per game.
In the Orlando bubble, Gabriel played in two seeding games before starting in Game 1 Tuesday night.
The 23-year-old finished with four points, three rebounds, and three assists in 16 minutes of action Tuesday, and he did not foul out despite fouling out the last time these two teams met back on Jan. 31.
Gabriel proved once again to be effective on disrupting Anthony Davis down low as Portland took the 1-0 series lead. Blazers head coach Terry Stotts praised his young power forward following Wednesday's practice.
He played well because of his activity, his energy, his toughness -- he was battling Davis inside, putting his body on him, filled in where he could, didn't make any mistakes, if any. I thought they were productive minutes and he played his role well. He did what he was supposed to do in his role. -- Trail Blazers head coach Terry Stotts
Gabriel finished Game 1 with five fouls, but foul trouble isn't something that Coach Stotts deems as a problem with Gabriel at the moment.
"As far as fouls, I don't want to take that away from him right now. He's got a tough matchup with Davis and he's out there with some other big guys, so I don't want him to back down. I don't want him to lose any aggressiveness. I want him to be smart with it, but those fouls are going to happen because he's a rookie guarding an all-pro player," Stotts said.
Staying aggressive will be key for Gabriel and he knows that as well.
"I've got to stay down on shot fakes. I've got to give myself a chance to avoid at least maybe two of those fouls, but just learning the game. I'm new to the game here. I'm still a rookie. Referees don't really know who I am yet out there, so I gotta… still be physical, but I can't walk into people's space... I think it's all learning for me anyways. I could look back at the film and see places where I can improve defensively. So, I think in the long run it'll be helpful," Gabriel said.
Now that the Trail Blazers announced that Zach Collins will be out for Game 2 and Game 3 against the Lakers due to a left ankle Malleolar stress reaction, the Blazers will be rolling with Gabriel at the starting four spot.
In 19 games played with the Trail Blazers during the regular season, Gabriel averaged 9.2 minutes while notching 2.3 points and 2.2 rebounds.
And the biggest stat? The Trail Blazers are 2-0 against the Lakers when Gabriel starts.
It's Gabriel's energy and toughness -- from battling on the glass to bodying up AD to taking a shot from LeBron that leads to a bloody nose -- that has the NBA world taking notice of the young undrafted big man.