When he left Indiana after just two seasons, it was legitimate to wonder if Thomas Bryant was making the right choice.
Now three years removed from that decision, there is no doubt — he did.
Despite not being drafted until the second round, and starting out in the G-League, Bryant has developed into a promising young NBA talent.
Bryant already capitalized handsomely on his progress during the 2019 offseason. Picked up by the Wizards off waivers in 2018, he signed a three-year, $25 million dollar deal last summer.
As the NBA resumed play in Orlando this summer, Bryant was already averaging career best numbers in points, rebounds, and other measures per game for the 2019-20 campaign.
Despite a late arrival, the arrows just kept pointing up in the bubble.
The 6-foot-10 Bryant tested positive for COVID-19 and was unable to join the Wizards initially in Orlando.
It is safe to say that the former IU star did not have any lingering effects from the virus.
In eight games in Orlando, Bryant averaged 18.6 points, 8.9 rebounds, 2.0 blocks and 1.4 steals per game. Going back to his IU days, Bryant has always been known as an efficient scorer, and he continued that in the bubble. He shot 53.2 percent overall, including 40.5 percent from three.
Over his first three seasons in the NBA, Bryant’s trend lines have followed a path more favorable than perhaps he could have even imagined.
Bryant has averaged 1.5, 10.5 and 13.5 points per game over his first three seasons, while adding 1.1, 6.3 and 7.2 rebounds per game during that span.
Bryant has always been known for his motor, and that continues to be a major part of his game. But what has really catapulted his production to the next level is his perimeter shot.
That is something Indiana fans saw in its infancy.
Bryant took just 15 three-pointers as a freshman at IU, making 5. The next season Bryant made 23 of 60 (38.3 percent), signaling what was to come.
Playing against greater length and athleticism, it took Bryant time to adjust to making threes in the NBA. But his progress has followed a familiar pattern. Bryant has made 10 percent, 33.3 percent and 40.7 percent of his attempts from behind the arc over the last three years.
With John Wall and Bradley Beal set to return to Washington next season the Wizards should have plenty of star power.
Add in a promising young front court talent in Rui Hachimura, and it could be a special season in 2020-21 for Washington.
The still just 23 year old Bryant has now solidified his place in the starting lineup with that group.
And if his performance in Orlando is a sign of things time come, Bryant appears set to be a star in the league in his own right for years to come.
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