Despite being healthy since he returned from a knee injury last January, Thomas Bryant has fallen out of the Washington Wizards’ rotation. He has racked up 10 DNP’s (Did not play) in the Wizards’ 15 games this month. It’s strange because he was Washington’s starting center at the start of the 2020-21 season before the injury happened. In addition, he’s still just 24 years old and has room to grow.
There are some reasons why Bryant’s time has declined since his return. First, the Wizards had two other centers: Montrezl Harrell and Daniel Gafford when Bryant made his season debut on Jan. 12. In their first four games, things seemed to be on the right track right before I spoke to Todd Ramasar, Bryant’s agent. Bryant’s minutes were in the 10-15 range, but he was making a scoring impact and had a positive plus/minus rating in three of his first four games.
Since then, the Wizards have traded Harrell to the Charlotte Hornets and acquired Kristaps Porzingis. While the Wizards acquired Porzingis on Feb. 10, he didn’t make his debut for Washington until Mar. 6. We’ll get there later. Anyway, Bryant actually received more playing time per game on the court (18.8 mpg) than Gafford (15.7 mpg) in games between Jan. 02 and Mar. 5, the day before Porzingis’ debut. Bryant had a nice stretch between Feb. 10 and Feb. 17 when he scored in double digits in four of five games. Bryant’s defensive rating (116.1) was also similar to Gafford’s (116).
But since Porzingis made his debut on Mar. 6, Bryant has been practically MIA, only making three appearances since then. The Wizards, who are likely out of the play-in game race, aren’t showing any signs that they intend to shut Porzingis down. If anything, Porzingis is a major attraction for fans who want to see Washington play. And he is putting up some strong individual numbers where he’s averaging 20.8 points and 8.3 rebounds per game in a Wizards uniform.
That said, the Wizards are losing games anyway, and they still have to make some decisions with their center rotation for next season.
On the surface, the Wizards already showed their cards by not playing Bryant once Porzingis made his debut. Like Bryant, Porzingis is a post who can stretch the floor. It seems like that skill set overlap is a reason why these DNP’s are happening.
But even if Bryant were still playing regularly, I don’t see him back next season because of the aforementioned skillset that he and Porzingis provide. Still, the Wizards wouldn’t be hurting themselve by playing Bryant consistently through the end of the season as he continues to get back to his pre-injury form. First and foremost, the play-in is realistically out of reach. And second, there is always the chance that Washington could get back another player they covet in a sign-and-trade deal involving Bryant this summer.
Let us know what would like the Wizards to do with Bryant as they head into the offseason.