2022-23 Los Angeles Lakers Player Review: Thomas Bryant
Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

Coming into the 2022-23 season, the big man depth needed to be addressed behind Anthony Davis. In that vein, the Los Angeles Lakers managed to lure another familiar face back to the organization in Thomas Bryant.

Bryant was originally a second-round draft pick of the Lakers back in 2017, but was eventually waived in the following offseason. Bryant then landed with the Washington Wizards where he spent four seasons with them before landing back in Los Angeles. The center agreed to a one-year minimum deal and was slated to compete for a starting role next to Davis.

Instead of starting, however, Darvin Ham opted to have Davis start at center which meant Bryant split the backup minutes with Damian Jones. Despite that, Bryant eventually began to establish himself as the second-string center due to his offensive output and high motor.

When Davis went down due to injury, Bryant stepped up admirably in his place and had arguably the best stretch of his career. Los Angeles managed to stay the course with Bryant filling in as best he could, but went back to the bench upon Davis’ return.

With his minutes dwindling from the rotation, the Lakers decided to deal Bryant to the Denver Nuggets in exchange for Davon Reed and three second-round picks, which is something he reportedly requested due to his lack of playing time. It was a short-lived reunion in L.A. for the energetic big man, but he certainly played his part in helping the Lakers get to where they got.

2022-23 Highlight

Without Davis in the lineup, Bryant got the lion’s share of minutes at center and he took full advantage of the opportunity. Bryant had a torrid stretch scoring in double-digits, but his best game came on the road against the Portland Trail Blazers.

The 25-year-old dominated the Blazers front court as he was a threat rolling to the rim and in the painted area where he feasted on putbacks. Bryant would score a season-high 31 points on an efficient 12-of-15 shooting while also pulling down 14 rebounds (five offensive).

Bryant also led all players in box-minus with a plus-22, showing Ham and the coaching staff that he deserved more playing time all along.

2023-24 Outlook

As soon as he got to Denver, Bryant got a chance to carve out a role behind Nikola Jokic but eventually found himself out of Michael Malone’s rotation. That trend extended into the playoffs as Bryant did not make an appearance for the Nuggets.

That doesn’t bode well for him as he’ll be an unrestricted free agent this summer, though with his size and youth he’ll likely land somewhere.

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