3 ways Thomas Bryant brings immediate value to the Lakers - Lakers Daily

3 ways Thomas Bryant brings immediate value to the Lakers

Thomas Bryant Wizards Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

The Los Angeles Lakers made an important move for their frontcourt by signing center Thomas Bryant to a one-year deal this offseason.

Bryant, who played in 15 games for the Lakers during the 2017-18 season, spent the past four seasons with the Washington Wizards. He believes he has a chance to start for the Lakers in the 2022-23 season.

Los Angeles has now signed two younger centers this offseason in Bryant and Damian Jones to pair alongside Anthony Davis in the frontcourt.

Bryant should give the Lakers some renewed energy up front after Dwight Howard and DeAndre Jordan were two of the team’s primary options at center early in the 2021-22 season.

With the Lakers setting their sights on another playoff run, Bryant could be a perfect fit on this roster and play a role similar to the one JaVale McGee played when the team won the NBA title in the Orlando, Fla. bubble during the 2019-20 season.

Here are three things Bryant brings to the Lakers that will help the team in the 2022-23 season:

1. Elite finishing at rim

Bryant has been slowed by injuries over the past few seasons, appearing in just 37 games since the start of the 2020-21 season. However, he’s still remained an elite finisher at the rim throughout his entire career.

For his career, Bryant shoots 80.8 percent on shots within three feet of the basket. To put that in perspective, Anthony Davis shoots 73.6 percent on those shots in his career.

This is huge for Los Angeles, as Bryant would be a proven lob threat and option to clean up misses on the offensive glass. The Lakers used McGee a lot in high-low action with Davis during their championship season, and Bryant may be able to fill that role.

Even though he played in just 27 games last season, Bryant shot 75.4 percent from within three feet and 48.0 percent from between three and 10 feet from the basket. That kind of efficiency is what the Lakers need as they look for scoring options that aren’t James and Davis.

2. Floor spacing

Bryant is a great finisher at the rim, but he has also shown he can stretch the floor on a limited basis in his NBA career.

Bryant shot 40.7 percent from 3-point range on 2.0 attempts per game in 46 games during the 2019-20 season. He followed that up with a strong showing in 10 games during the 2020-21 season, shooting 42.9 percent from beyond the arc.

This could be huge for the Lakers, as it will open up space for Davis and James to work in the post in the 2022-23 season.

Also, if the team hangs onto guard Russell Westbrook, this should open up more driving lanes for him and James, as Bryant will be taking a defender with him to the perimeter.

The Lakers don’t need Bryant to be lights out from beyond the arc, but the fact that he is a threat from deep is huge for them going forward.

3. Shot-blocking presence

It’s no secret that Davis is one of the best shot-blockers in the NBA when healthy, but the Lakers could use more rim protection in the 2022-23 season if Howard isn’t on the roster.

Bryant averages 0.9 blocks per game for his career, with his best season coming in the 2019-20 campaign when he averaged 1.1 blocks per game.

He probably won’t block as many shots as Davis, but Bryant can give the Lakers proven rim protection when A.D. goes to the bench. With Davis’ injury history, it’s important for the Lakers to have other capable shot-blockers on the roster.

Bryant can really thrive in the center spot for Los Angeles, especially with all of the talent around him on the roster. The Lakers should be thrilled they were able to add him to the roster this offseason.