Thomas Bryant has come a long way since leaving Indiana University early back in 2017.
After finishing his sophomore year of college, Bryant declared that he would be preparing for the NBA Draft. On June 22nd, 2017, the Utah Jazz selected Thomas Bryant as the 42nd overall pick. He was soon traded, along with Josh Hart, former Villanova star, to the Los Angeles Lakers. He then signed his rookie contract with the Lakers on July 30th, 2017.
Thomas started off his NBA career as a two-way player for the Lakers. He played in 15 games for the Los Angeles Lakers, and 37 games for the South Bay Lakers. He did well in the G-League last season, averaging 30.7 minutes, 19.7 points per game, 7.4 rebounds per game, and shot 59.5% from the field. His NBA play, however, was not as impressive. He only averaged 4.8 minutes and 1.5 points per game when he was called up.
Fast forward to June 30th, 2018. The Lakers decide to waive Bryant, in order to make room for the moves that were to surround Lebron James. It did not take long before the Washington Wizards snatched him up off waivers just two days later. Thomas went through Summer League and preseason games as one of the more intriguing players for the Wizards. Most of the attention was on former first round pick, Troy Brown Jr., but most Washington fans were impressed with how the young man was doing.
Of course, not much noise was made during the beginning of the 2018-2019 season as Bryant did not play very much. He only came in games here and there, and most of it was to spot starting center, Dwight Howard, a newly acquired player for the Wizards. He played a total of 31 minutes in the first 16 games for the Wizards, which averages to just under 2 minutes per game. Everything changed, however, when the Wizards received news that starting center, Dwight Howard would be out for 2-3 months for a gluteal injury.
Just four days prior to the tipoff of the Wizards and Clippers on Tuesday, November 20th, 2018, Thomas was playing his first game with the Wizards G-League affiliate team, the Capital City GoGos. I was already planning on going to the Wizards/Clippers game that Tuesday, and was saddened to hear that I might not even see Thomas in a Wizards uniform that night. Little did I know that hours before the game tipped off, Scott Brooks, Washington Wizards’ head coach, announced that Bryant was called up from the G-League and now starting against the Wizards old player, Marcin Gortat.
Bryant immediately played the most minutes he had ever had in an NBA game, and impressed his teammates with how he stepped up, and stepped up so quickly. Since then, #13 has started every single game. He went from averaging under 2 minutes per game, to averaging over 19 minutes per game. He is solidly contributing for the Wizards, and has earned the trust of his teammates, coaches, and the Wizards fanbase.
All of this happened before the historic night December 22nd, 2018. Thomas Bryant, a player who was very recently playing in the G-League, made NBA history. The Wizards were playing the Phoenix Suns that Saturday evening, and they were playing without stars John Wall and Bradley Beal. Everyone needed to step up, including the young center. In a Triple Overtime victory for the Wizards, Thomas Bryant logged his most minutes, points, and rebounds of his NBA career thus-far. He scored 31 points, but in doing so, did not miss one shot. He went 14-14 from the field, and made 3-3 free throws. He is only the 5th player in NBA history to make that many field goals in a row, with only the all-time great, Wilt Chamberlain, making more consecutive shots.
This is only the beginning for the Wizards up and coming center, as he has secured himself in the starting lineup for the next month or so, at least, until the Wizards can reevaluate Dwight Howard. If he continues to progress, even when Howard comes back, it seems like, for now, that Thomas Bryant has found a home in D.C., and Indiana fans are happy that he is showing who he can really be.
Photo Credit: nbcsports.com