Name: Thomas Bryant
Weight: 241 pounds
Stats: 12.6 points, 6.6 rebounds, 1.5 assists, 38.3% 3PT, 55.6% FG
Teams Worked Out For: Atlanta, Portland, L.A. Lakers, Philadelphia, Utah, Sacramento
Overview: After a standout freshman season, Thomas Bryant entered 2016-17 with high expectations both from fans and scouts. However, in a microcosm of the season, Bryant disappointed with bright spots scattered throughout a largely underwhelming season.
Despite that, Bryant declared for the draft as a fringe first-round draft pick. His mixture of size, shooting and potential was enough to keep scouts enticed and keep teams interested.
The fact Bryant is still just 19 years old with two years of college experience under his belt is a huge plus, but his lack of development the last season raised enough concern to likely knock him out of the first round.
Strengths: Bryant’s blend of youth, size and shooting are the three main aspects of his game that are most appealing.
First, his 20th birthday will not be until July 31. To put that into perspective, consensus top-five pick and Kansas’ one-and-done freshman Josh Jackson will be 21 midway through next season. Bryant will play an entire season of NBA ball before turning 21 after completing two seasons of college ball.
Bryant also had caught scouts eyes with his measurements at the NBA Draft Combine. With shoes, he measured at 6’10.75”, which is impressive in it’s own right. However, His 7’6” wingspan and 9’4.5” standing reach both come flying off the page when looking at his measurements.
Bryant’s also looked slimmer and a bit more agile in his summer workout videos, specifically ones shared by DraftExpress.
In that video, you can see his focus on knocking down jumpers, one of the few areas of improvement from his freshman to sophomore seasons. In his second year in Bloomington, Bryant hit 38.3 percent from beyond the arc, an improvement of five percent from his freshman year.
In general, Bryant’s mobility is a big positive. In a league trending smaller, Bryant’s ability to play on the perimeter is massive. More than just knocking down perimeter jumpers, Bryant can drag defenders away from the rim and help space the floor.
However, Bryant also showcased an ability in the post last season. While it was often a work in progress, the signs were there, specifically in Indiana’s win over Penn State at home. The repertoire of moves are there even if the fluidity isn’t just yet. But when it was clicking, Bryant was as good inside the paint as he was on the perimeter, if not better.
And lastly, and most noticeably, is Bryant’s motor. Few players worked harder than he did on the court and, often to IU and opponent’s fans dismay, few players showcased their emotions more. While you could fault Bryant for many things, a lack of effort was rarely, if ever, one of them.
Weaknesses: Watching Bryant play basketball at times was awkward. While the moves were there, Bryant never quite looked comfortable in executing them. Maybe it’s a matter of simple repetition, but regardless it’s going to take some time.
Bryant also was never the most coordinated player. His running style often looked like a struggle and his lateral quickness was often non-existent (which often showed defensively). While he’s a player who can play on the perimeter, he’s also a player that is stuck on the perimeter when he received the ball. There was never much of a threat on a dribble drive - at least not a consistent one - and he wasn’t going to knock down a dribble pull-up. While he showed some interesting things in DraftExpress’ workout video in that regard, we’re a long way removed from Bryant being much more than a three-point threat at the next level.
Defensively, while Bryant has the physically tools to excel, but it never clicked. As previously mentioned, his lack of quickness left him exposed against guards and was a huge reason the Hoosiers struggled early in his freshman season, specifically in Hawaii. Despite his ridiculous wingspan and standing reach, Bryant only averaged 1.2 blocks per game in his time at IU.
Again, if he’s going to excel defensively at the next level, he either needs to become better at shot-blocking or more agile and flexible, something he mentioned in the DraftExpress interview above.
And while Bryant’s motor and emotion can be seen as a positive, it could also be a negative as well. At times, his emotions got the best of him on the court and led to silly mistakes. NBA teams will target and exploit that at the next level.
Outlook: Bryant left Indiana on a sour note as one of the main scapegoats after IU’s implosion last season. However, he’s going to flirt with the first round on Thursday night. His blend of shooting, size and potential at the age of 19 is going to make GMs fall in love.
Even at his current state, Bryant could contribute at the next level. Bigs who can stretch the floor are a hot commodity in the league, especially ones at 19. Did I mention he’s 19? Because that’s crazy.
The draft from about pick 15 or through the second round this season is a crap shoot. Bryant could go as early as the 20s and as late as the 40s. Either way, he’ll be a contributor next season (barring him landing on a title contender).