Three Trade Scenarios Including Thomas Bryant

--This exercise provides proposals that are completely my own attempts to find realistic trades that include Thomas Bryant.

After having a revelatory season in 2018, the Washington Wizards rewarded Thomas Bryant with a three-year, $25 million dollar contract in the summer of 2019. While Bryant was a consistent contributor on the offensive end this past season, 12.1 points, 6.8 rebounds, 0.9 blocks while posting a 65 true shooting percentage, it was his defensive deficiencies that have worried pundits and fans alike. However, at 22 years-old, Bryant has plenty of time to develop on the defensive side of the ball. While he struggles to switch and too often gets beaten at the rim, his wing span of 7-foot-6 coupled with his athleticism is intriguing. Could Bryant excel in a team with better all-around defenders?

Despite being an offensive contributor for a top-half offense in the league, Bryant’s skillset and production are almost mirrored by backup center Mo Wagner. While both struggle on the defensive side of the ball, Wagner’s energy and attempts to take charges lead to too many unnecessary fouls, their offensive output is comparable. This past season, Wagner posted 9.5 points, 5.2 rebounds, 0.5 blocks with a 66 true shooting percentage. Having two centers who give the team similar production on offense while equally struggling on defense makes it hard to justify keeping both.

While Bryant’s statistics are slightly better than Wagner’s, Wagner has a much more affordable contract – $4.2 million over the next two years. Here are three potential trades the Wizards should consider involving their young center.

1) Thomas Bryant, Ish Smith, and the Wizards’ Projected 2020 9th Overall Pick for Jonas Valanciunas

The Memphis Grizzlies were a playoff team in the loaded Western Conference this year, and a big part of their surprising season was Valanciunas. Before the season was suspended, he was averaging 14.9 points, 11.2 rebounds, and 1.1 blocks, shooting 62 percent from two and 37 percent from three. Valanciunas’ physical presence in the paint was one of the main factors in the Grizzlies having a top-half of the league defensive rating – 109.9.

With a DRAYMOND score of +2.25, per the statistical analysis website Five Thirty Eight, which uses the metric to measure opponents’ shooting data when defended by a certain player, Valanciunas is clearly a defensive contributor. To give context to Valanciunas’ score, he contributes +2.25 points per 100 possessions of defensive value.

After having been an integral part of the team’s success this season, why would the Grizzlies trade their Lithuanian big man? Simple. At 28 years old, Valanciunas does not fit with the core of this team. The Grizzlies, despite pushing for the playoffs this season, are still a rebuilding team that is a few years away from seriously contending, by which time Valanciunas will be past his prime.

While the Wizards would get reliable rim protection, and a player to help show Bradley Beal the team’s commitment to winning, Memphis would get a younger center in Bryant, a reliable backup point guard in Ish Smith who could help further franchise cornerstone Ja Morant’s development, and a projected top-ten lottery pick to add another young piece to this "re-tooling" squad.

2) Thomas Bryant, Ish Smith, Admiral Schofield, and the Wizards’ Projected 2020 9th Overall Pick for Myles Turner

Naptown has abundance in their frontcourt with Myles Turner and Domantas Sabonis. With Sabonis having a career year that lead to an All-Star selection, the Pacers may look to capitalize on Turner’s value while they can. And with Sabonis recently signing an extension, Malcolm Brogdon’s sizable deal, and Victor Oladipo’s expiring contract in 2021, the Pacers might also be incentivized to shed Turner’s contract ($54 million over the next three seasons).

These were Turner’s numbers this past season: 11.8 points, 6.5 rebounds, and 2.2 blocks. With a defensive rating of 105, a defensive box plus/minus of 0.9, and a DRAYMOND score of +2.43, Turner has long been viewed as a strong defender. Not only will he help cover for weaker defenders in the paint, he has the ability to guard on the perimeter as well. Turner would also give the team reliable shooting – 34 percent from behind the arc and 54 percent from two point range.

In assuming the Wizards bring back Shabazz Napier – a deal worth around two years, $3.7 million – and with John Wall coming back, the loss of Smith, who would add to Indiana’s point guard depth, is less impactful. As a defender in the league’s seventh best defense, not only would Bryant be around more competent defenders, he would also be asked to do less than he was with the Wizards, which would mitigate his defensive shortcomings.

In convincing Pacers’ GM Chad Buchanan to part ways with Turner, the Wizards would have to include their 2020 projected top-ten lottery pick. The Pacers are currently without a first round pick this year – they sent their top 14 protected pick to the Bucks last summer in the Malcolm Brogdon sign and trade – so having a top-ten pick would help give the team a young, and more importantly, affordable player.

And who knows, perhaps Schofield, the Wizards’ 2019 second round pick, could provide some physicality and grit for the Pacers.

3) Thomas Bryant and the Wizards’ Projected 2020 9th Overall Pick for Mo Bamba and Khem Birch

When the Magic gave All-Star center Nikola Vucevic a max contract last summer, they signaled their intent to stay competitive in the East. In their current "win now" mode, 22-year-old Bamba has barely seen the court in his first two seasons in the league. (15.3 minutes per game). With the Magic paying Vucevic into his thirties, Bamba won’t be given the opportunity to develop into the player he was projected to be coming out of college.

At the University of Texas, Bamba posted 12.9 points, 10.5 rebounds, an astounding 3.7 blocks and was selected to the 2018 Big 12 All-Defensive team. At this point, Bamba is still a raw prospect with incredible size – standing at 7’1" with a 7-foot-10 wingspan. If given consistent minutes at the five with the Wizards, imagine how much Bamba would develop his numbers of 5.5 points, 5 rebounds, and 1.4 blocks. Bamba would bring incredible rim protection and stability to a Wizards team that has lacked any semblance of defensive identity in recent seasons.

For the Magic, Thomas Bryant would bring depth at the center position, good offensive numbers, and would not challenge Vucevic for the starting position. The team would also not have to worry about the potential pay raise they would have had to offer to Bamba. Bryant would have a smaller defensive roll and the Magic would have a quality offensive backup big who could log consistent minutes while continuing to develop. While a Bamba for Bryant trade seems unlikely, including a projected top ten pick would help incentivize Orlando to part ways with the sixth overall pick in the 2018 draft.

A high draft pick would also help the Magic build for the future. Orlando might not bring back D.J. Augustin, who is 32 years old and set to become a free agent this summer, and if Evan Fournier picks up his $17 million player option, he would be a free agent in the summer of 2021. Terrence Ross on the other hand is due $37 million over the next three years. In a guard heavy draft, the Magic could target young players on rookie deals to help account for their aging stars.

While trading a projected top ten selection may make some gag, this is arguably the year to do it. The 2020 draft appears to be as uncertain as the notoriously "bust filled" 2013 draft. Even after trading away their first round pick, the Wizards would still have a second round selection (projected 37 overall), where they could target several "sleeper" picks, most notably DePaul’s 6-foot-9 power forward Paul Reed, who posted 15.1 points, 2.6 blocks, 1.9 steals and a defensive rating of 88.8 this past season. Reed could potentially develop into the rim protector Sheppard so desperately needs.

While Bamba is the clear top asset in this trade, Birch would bring good size to the Wizards – 6-foot-nine, 230 pounds – and a positive defensive rating, 0.8 defensive win shares.

This represents the view of the user who wrote the FanPost, and not the entire Bullets Forever community. We're a place of many opinions, not just one.