While Lonzo Ball, Kyle Kuzma, and Josh Hart each have found their spots in the rotation early in the season, the front office’s fourth selection during the 2017 NBA Draft has been much quieter. Thomas Bryant was drafted 42nd overall and in the second round, coming in as a project-type big-man.
With the Lakers acquiring Brook Lopez and Andrew Bogut during the offseason, along with returning second-year player Ivica Zubac, Bryant was never likely to be an early contributor. He was promptly sent to the team’s G-League affiliate, the South Bay Lakers. Down there he has received plenty of minutes and developmental opportunities that he would struggle to receive otherwise.
Bryant was recently recalled by the Lakers, who also sent down Josh Hart and Ivica Zubac to the G-League, so he could find himself with an opportunity to make an impact on the main roster, something that is not lost on him.
In fact, Thomas even asked head coach Luke Walton to stay down in the G-League to keep developing as opposed to riding the bench with the Lakers. This mindset really stood out to Walton as he shared following practice on Tuesday.
“Thomas is great, because he just wants to play basketball,” Walton said. “I was thinking about bringing him back a game earlier, and he called me and begged me…he said ‘No disrespect coach, I’ll do whatever you want, but if I’m not going to be playing, is there any way, I can stay down here and stay with the G League because I like playing with them and it’s their home opener. He’s been great, just his overall attitude and energy, just about being around just wanting to play basketball.”
Bryant does exude that grateful demeanor whenever on the court, always smiling and encouraging his teammates. Even though minutes will be hard to come by with the Lakers, just having someone like that around can be a positive for the team.
Most people remember Bryant as the burst of energy of the bench during the 2017 Las Vegas Summer League, with a relentless motor and flurry of emotions on the court. At the same time, he is also very appreciative of the offer he has been given and will undoubtedly bring that same energy with the Lakers.
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