Former Indiana center Thomas Bryant was selected by the Los Angeles Lakers with the 42nd overall pick in Thursday night’s NBA Draft at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn. The Lakers acquired the pick from the Utah Jazz along with Villanova guard Josh Hart (30th overall pick) in exchange for North Carolina big man Tony Bradley, the 28th pick.
Bryant opted to leave Indiana early for the NBA Draft, and time will tell if that was the right decision. Dropping into the second round means Bryant won’t receive a guaranteed contract, but he does join a young core in LA with hopes of becoming a contender in the near future.
Lakers General Manager Rob Pelinka said Thursday night he believes Bryant has the potential to be a stretch five who will benefit from Lonzo Ball‘s ability to break down a defense and make plays. The Lakers selected Ball, the former UCLA guard, with the No. 2 overall pick in Thursday’s draft.
“I think his length around the rim is disruptive,” Pelinka told the Los Angeles Times. “But when he steps out to the top of the key, you gotta guard him because he has a beautiful 3-point shot. So I think he’ll be able to help us defensively as a rim protector and opening the floor as a shooter.”
Bryant will be battling with guys like Brook Lopez, Julius Randle, Tarik Black, Thomas Robinson, Larry Nance Jr. and Ivica Zubac for minutes next season. That being said, Randle would likely be included in a deal to acquire Paul George if the Lakers decide to go that route, Lopez has a history of injuries, and Nance Jr. is used mostly at power forward.
I’m not convinced Bryant will be a good pro, but maybe he’ll prove me wrong. He needs to get much stronger, but that’s something that can be done. The real concern for me is his lack of foot speed and his inability to defend the high ball screen at the collegiate level. I wonder if Bryant will ever improve in those areas enough to be on the floor in an NBA game.
The positives, though, are Bryant’s high-energy level, strong work ethic, and offensive skill set. Bryant is a gifted scorer both around the basket and on the perimeter, and he’s a capable shot blocker when he’s in position.
The 6-foot-10, 245-pound Bryant averaged 12.6 points, 6.6 rebounds, and 1.6 blocks as a sophomore at Indiana last year while also hitting 38 percent from beyond the arc.
Here’s what LakersNation.com had to say about Bryant:
That said, perhaps the most impressive thing about Bryant is his wingspan, which is a ridiculous 7’6 inches and gives him a standing reach of almost 9’5″. To put that in perspective, Bryant can just about touch the rim without jumping. This length gives him upside as a rim protector, something the Lakers could sorely use.
Bryant won’t find playing time easy to come by with Brook Lopez, Ivica Zubac, and potentially Tarik Black all manning the middle for the Lakers, but as the 42nd pick he will be given time to develop, perhaps in the G-League. He’s something of a lumbering players, which isn’t really en vogue in the NBA right now, and given his physical profile he would have been selected much earlier 10 years ago. That said, rim protection is important, and if Bryant can also occasionally stretch the floor that will be the icing on the cake for the Lakers.
You can watch Bryant getting drafted in the embedded video player below.