WASHINGTON, DC - DECEMBER 22: Thomas Bryant #13 of the Washington Wizards reacts to a play during the game against the Phoenix Suns on December 22, 2018 at Capital One Arena in Washington, DC.
Ned Dishman/NBAE via Getty Images

Bryant returns to Wizards after breakout season

The Wizards have officially announced that they re-signed center Thomas Bryant, who had a breakout season in his first year in Washington. Bryant, who was acquired off waivers from the Lakers last offseason, was one of the team’s top priorities heading into this summer’s free agency.

Bryant made the most of his opportunity last season when Dwight Howard went down with a back injury. In 20.8 minutes per game, including 53 starts, Bryant averaged 10.5 points and 6.3 rebounds per game on 61.6% from the field, 33.3% from 3-point range, and 78.1% from the free throw line. Bryant was almost automatic around the basket; his 79.9% shooting in the restricted area led the NBA.

The statistics jump off the page for someone who was essentially playing his first full NBA season. Bryant also made two game-winning shots, one in London against the Knicks and another in Phoenix in March. He almost posted a 20-point, 20-rebound performance in that Suns game.

His offense will continue to blossom, while defense will be the main emphasis in his development moving forward. Along with his ability to shoot the ball and his high motor, Bryant’s work ethic has stood out as one of his greatest attributes. The Wizards believe Bryant can become one of the league’s best young centers, with his game translating well to the modern NBA.

“Re-signing Thomas was our top priority this offseason and we’re extremely excited to have him with us as he takes the next step in his development,” said Wizards Senior Vice President of Basketball Operations Tommy Sheppard. “His overall attitude, work ethic and team-first mentality embody the type of environment that we are working to create and sustain within the Wizards organization.”

Bryant earned the trust of Bradley Beal throughout the 2018-19 season, and the two have built considerable chemistry in little time. Bryant’s energy was contagious in the locker room, and he became very close with Troy Brown Jr., a combination the Wizards hope to see for years to come.

Bryant, who turns 22 later this month, joins Beal (26), John Wall (28), Brown Jr. (19), and Rui Hachimura (21) as the Wizards’ key pieces moving forward. With Wall expected to miss much of the 2019-20 season, Washington will look for Bryant to step up as one of the team’s top contributors.

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