Although the Los Angeles Lakers used the offseason period to acquire names like Brook Lopez and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, they also used the 2017 NBA Draft as a platform for young talent. Lonzo Ball, Kyle Kuzma, Josh Hart and Thomas Bryant were each drafted by the Lakers, with a unique skill set and desire to contribute.
While Ball was handed the keys to the franchise, Kuzma, Hart, and Bryant will have to make a name for themselves against NBA talent. That case certainly speaks true for Bryant, the lone second-round selection for the Lakers. Bryant joins a big-man core that features Lopez, Ivica Zubac, Larry Nance Jr., Kuzma, and Julius Randle, creating quite the daunting task.
As a rookie, the process involving the NBA is certainly surreal, as their dreams have come true and now they must acclimate themselves. During an interview on ‘The Popcorn Machine’ podcast, Bryant stated that his goal remains to make a lasting impression as he competes for playing time:
“Just being around a great organization like the Los Angeles Lakers, it means a lot to you just being a player in itself in the NBA. As a rookie coming in you just want to do all things well. You walk into the gym every day, you see the greats up on the wall, and you just want to live up to the expectations. You have Magic and Rob Pelinka up there in the office, you know they’re looking down at you, you just want to give good impressions. Luke as a coach, the guys that are the vets on the team, guys that have done great and are still here, you just want to give out good impressions and be a good teammate.”
Lakers fans first saw Bryant during the 2017 Las Vegas Summer League, where he made an immediate impression with his energy and charisma. Bryant took pride in his defense, turning into a rim protector throughout Summer League and exerting his energy one way or another.
At the same time, the expectations that come with being a rookie for the Lakers also raise the bar. Bryant alluded to the Lakers legends that grace the walls and banners at the new UCLA Health Training Center, serving as a constant source of inspiration. After agreeing to a deal with Los Angeles, Bryant understands that his work and dedication will do the speaking from here on out.
Bryant was a direct beneficiary of the creative playmaking of both Ball and Alex Caruso during the Summer League, using his basketball IQ to be on the receiving end of many easy buckets. After a promising collegiate career at Indiana University, Bryant enters a new atmosphere, ready to turn it up a notch and solidify his roster spot at training camp.