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Thomas Bryant knows his roll

NBA: Phoenix Suns at Washington Wizards Brad Mills-USA TODAY Sports

Daily Digits is a new daily feature we’re doing at Bullets Forever this year where we take a look at stats about the Wizards. We’ll dive into the numbers, add some context, and discuss how they affect the product on the court.

Today’s stat is Thomas Bryant’s field goal percentage on shots within five feet of the basket this season, which is...


Thomas Bryant put on a clinic Saturday on how to take exactly what the defense gives you. He exploited the Suns’ interior defense, which gives up a league-high 52.7 points per game, to get easy shots in the paint all game long. He scored 31 points on a perfect 14-for-14 shooting without taking a single shot further than two feet from the basket.

For someone who has been known mostly as a pick-and-pop big, Bryant has done a remarkable job adapting to be more of a traditional pick-and-roll center with the starting unit. Dwight Powell is the only player in the NBA who has taken at least 50 shots within five feet of the rim and shot a better percentage than Bryant this season. Even when teams do a better job of defending the roll than Phoenix did on Saturday, his firm screens give the guards more room to operate and a better chance to make something happen.

No one would confuse Bryant with Clint Capela, but he’s made the right call trying to embrace that kind of a role with the Wizards in the starting lineup. Having an effective rim-runner in the starting lineup who can collapse the defense does a lot more for Washington’s offense than a stretch big who just provides extra spacing.

Bryant still has a lot of room to grow as a defender and a rebounder if he wants to solidify his place in Washington’s long-term plans, but everything he’s doing now shows that he’s willing and able to keep growing and learning.