The Los Angeles Lakers are making some sort of headway towards returning to the playoffs after the signing of Washington Wizards big man Thomas Bryant.
Yahoo’s Chris Haynes reported that Bryant will be joining the Lakers for the 2022-23 season on a one-year deal and is expected to compete for the starting role.
After a 2021-22 season mired in turmoil, the Lakers are taking a step in the right direction with this signing.
Bryant, drafted 42nd overall by the Lakers in 2017, was cut from the team at the conclusion of his rookie year only to find life as the main center for the Washington Wizards for the next three seasons.
While he has only had one relatively healthy season in his career (72 games in 2018-19), Bryant is a worthwhile addition to the Lakers as it takes the load off of Anthony Davis from playing the center position.
This effectively pushes Talen Horton-Tucker to the bench as LeBron James slides down to small forward, while Davis takes on his more natural power forward position.
The Lakers also added Damian Jones to the team on a two-year deal and will be Bryant’s main competition for the starting gig.
With Jones being the more athletic big man and Bryant carrying a more offense-heavy skill set, Lakers fans could see the pair splitting time at the position instead of fighting over it, depending on who the team is facing.
In addition, the sudden depth in the frontcourt gives more chances to Davis being preserved for the playoffs–a time when the Lakers will definitely need him most.
Bryant averaged 11 points, 6.2 rebounds, 1.4 assists, 0.4 steals and 0.9 blocks in four seasons with the Wizards and is likely to put up the same–or even better–numbers in Los Angeles.
Health will be the biggest opponent for Bryant as he dealt with a partially torn ACL in the 2020-21 season and a right ankle sprain for most of last season, which restricted him to just 27 games.
But despite his own injury history, there is no doubt that Bryant joining the Lakers is a massive win for the team and their fans as they look to make their way back to the playoffs.