The 2017-18 NBA season has ended for five of the eight former Indiana Hoosiers that registered statistics in the league this year. Today marks the second in a series of more in depth reviews of their respective seasons. Today we discuss former Hoosier big man Thomas Bryant.
It was about this time of year in 2015 when Thomas Bryant committed live on ESPN to play for Indiana. A lot has transpired for Bryant and the Hoosiers since then, including an outright Big Ten title, a coaching change, and an early exit to the NBA in 2017.
While some have speculated that Bryant would have returned for his junior year, he has stated that he probably would have entered the NBA Draft irrespective of the firing of Tom Crean. Bryant was selected in the 2nd round of the 2017 draft. He was the 42nd overall pick. As a draft choice, Bryant spent the year under contract. He has a two-year deal with the Lakers, with the second year being a team option.
While Bryant started the year in the G-League with the South Bay Lakers, he would eventually get called up to Los Angeles in January. From there, Bryant bounced back and forth between the Lakers and the G-League throughout the remainder of his rookie season. He saw his most extensive NBA action of the season in April. In the final game of the year, Bryant played 18 minutes and set career highs with 6 points, 6 rebounds and 2 blocks.
Games/Games Started – 15/0
Points – 1.5
Rebounds – 1.1
Assists – .4
Blocks – .1
Steals – .1
FG% – .381
3FG% – .100
FT% – .556
Bryant scored his first career NBA field goal in his fourth game with LA against the New York Knicks at Staples Center. It was a 3-pointer from the right wing with under a minute to play off a pick-and-pop pass from point guard and fellow rookie Alex Caruso.
A G-LEAGUE STAR
The former Hoosier star spent most of the season with the South Bay Lakers in the NBA G-League, and at least at that level, the year was a major success.
Bryant was voted to the first team All G-League. He also placed second in the race for G-League Rookie of the Year, shooting a league-high 74.3 percent on two-pointers on the season. He averaged 19.7 points and hit 36.4 percent from deep for South Bay. He also contributed 7.4 rebounds, 2.1 assists and 1.5 blocks per game.
You can watch one of his better G-League games of the year here, where he scored 33 points against Reno.
Bryant gave the media a post-season interview to summarize his rookie season, his assessment of how things went and what he will focus on in the future. Indiana fans will certainly recognize the reference to Bryant being an emotional player:
The Lakers are high on Bryant’s future with the NBA team. On a recent radio interview, Lakers’ GM Rob Pelinka observed that Bryant has the right intangibles to be successful in the NBA, and he is doing the right things off the court as well:
“In particular with Thomas Bryant, we all know the game is about shooting bigs. It was just stretch fours at one point, now you’ve got to have stretch fours and stretch fives, and Thomas Bryant is a seven-foot stretch five. Gunnar Peterson and our weight staff have done an unbelievable job just getting him locked in to being an ‘NBA strong’ player. His body fat went way down under 10 percent, he’s eating clean and you can just see the wiry, strong way he’s growing into his body.”
Indiana fans saw Bryant make big strides with his perimeter shot from year 1 to year 2. Now Pelinka sees that ability as being something that will allow him to carve-out a more permanent role in the NBA:
“He’s just an unbelievable, almost intoxicating 3-point shooter from the top of the key. It’s almost automatic. As he grows into his body and the pace of the NBA game you can see Lonzo coming off that high ball screen, you can see Kuz in the space that Thomas Bryant will open up for our cutters and our slashers. We do feel like he’s going to be a big piece of the future and how we want to play, and how we want to build this.”
Bryant will continue to refine his game in the NBA’s Summer League.
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