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Daily Digits: Thomas Bryant is filling the Marcin Gortat void

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NBA: Washington Wizards at Atlanta Hawks Brett Davis-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 Player Efficiency Rating this season, which is...

19.7

Although replacing Marcin Gortat was necessary, it was never going to be easy. He had unique skills that worked with Washington’s core that are hard to find, but finding ways to replace what he brought to the table has not gone to plan.

Dwight Howard was supposed to give the Wizards something different this season, but his back had other ideas. Ian Mahinmi’s 3-point shooting hasn’t been able to overcome his decline in other areas. Markieff Morris has played more at center this season, but his struggles as a rebounder take away from his value as a shooter and switch defender.

Enter Thomas Bryant. No one would have compared Bryant’s game to Gortat’s when he was going through the draft process, but his numbers this season have been remarkably similar or better to Gortat’s last season:

Bryant vs. Gortat per 100 possessions

Marcin Gortat PTS TRB AST BLK STL PF TOV TS% USG% PER WS/48
Marcin Gortat PTS TRB AST BLK STL PF TOV TS% USG% PER WS/48
Thomas Bryant 21.2 14.2 2.7 2.2 1.2 4 2.5 66 16.6 19.7 0.159
Marcin Gortat 16.5 14.9 3.6 1.5 1 4.2 2.4 54.6 15.5 14.7 0.113
Numbers Via Basketball-Reference

Believe it or not, Bryant is also providing value in the non-traditional stats. He’s averaging more screen assists per 36 minutes (7.8) than Gortat did last season (6.3).

Granted, it’s still early and Bryant has been inoculated from playing with unproductive bench lineups in ways that Gortat wasn’t last season, so the areas where Bryant seems like a drastic upgrade may come back to earth in time. Then again, if Gortat was still in Washington, he would probably be in a role similar to what Bryant is now, where he starts halves and gets additional playing time depending on matchups.

The role of the big man might be diminishing in the NBA, but it’s still important to have a useful 7-footer every now and then. So far, Bryant has given the Wizards just what they need on a much more cost-friendly deal.