After trading the #28 pick for the #30 and #42 picks, the Lakers selected University of Indiana C Thomas Bryant at #42. Bryant, a sophomore big man, averaged 12.6 points and 6.6 rebounds a game in a solid season individually (but one that did not have a lot of team success for the Hoosiers).
I am by no means an expert on Bryant, but the first thing that stands out to me when looking at his profile and watching some clips on him are his physical tools and how that translates to his game. Simply put, at nearly 6’11 and 248 pounds with a 7’6″ wingspan and a 9’4.5″ standing reach, this guy has an NBA physique that allowed him to overpower college athletes offensively and impact the game defensively.
How that all translates to the NBA level, though, remains to be seen. Even though Bryant possesses NBA size, he doesn’t necessarily possess NBA athleticism.
Even in the video above, you see how he’s not a high flyer in tight spaces and really does his best finishing when going downhill in the P&R or when in a full sprint when in transition. Don’t get me wrong, those skills will be useful at the pro level, but when the game is slower or when operating in a crowd, it remains to be seen if he can develop the polish to compensate for that lack of elite explosiveness. Especially when he can’t just bully opponents the way he was able to in college.
If there’s an intriguing part of Bryant’s game, however, it’s that in his sophomore season he started to flash a more competent jumper. He hit 38.3% of his three-pointers on nearly 2 attempts per game at IU last season. Of course the NBA three is much deeper and with a small sample like that there’s no telling how that all translates, but the form on his shot looks good and he did hit 73% of his FT’s — which indicates some competence as a shooter. I don’t think Luke is going to try to turn Bryant into a stretch big anytime soon, but considering his downhill game as a finisher attacking the rim, an ability to step out and hit a jumper can potentially keep the defense honest.
As far as fit on this team, it’s hard to say where Bryant gets slotted right now. The team still has to make a roster decision on Tarik Black, who has a non-guaranteed contract for next season. If Black is not back next year, I could see Bryant making the team as a 3rd center and spending time in the G-League while Lopez, Zubac, and one of the PF’s (Randle/Nance) soak up all the minutes at C. If that’s the case, though, Bryant could end up getting some valuable reps while also being a nice enough practice player who, over time, might just have a future in this league by building on his physical tools.