Wizards’ center was averaging a career-high 15.9 points per game entering Saturday.
After Rui Hachimura drove toward the bucket and missed a contested lay-up during the first two minutes of last night’s 128-124 loss to Miami, Thomas Bryant leaped into the air to grab the rebound. The 6-foot-10 center turned his ankle and fell to the floor, writhing in pain and clutching his left knee.
Today, the Wizards announced that the 23-year-old suffered a partially torn ACL to that knee, along with a sprained left ankle. He now faces a nine- to 12-month recovery, curtailing his season after 10 games.
Bryant finishes with 6.1 rebounds and a career-high 14.3 points per game. On Jan. 3 in Brooklyn, New York, the former Indiana Hoosier secured an offensive rebound and go-ahead slam late to lift Washington over Kevin Durant, Kyrie Irving and the Nets.
“Thomas Bryant, I keep saying this: He’s just growing up,” Brooks said after the game.
As John Wall, Bradley Beal and Davis Bertans didn’t make the trip to the Orlando, Florida, bubble last summer, Bryant had an increased role on the floor. And he didn’t disappoint — averaging 18.6 points, 8.9 rebounds, 2.0 blocks and 1.4 steals over the eight games.
Once the Wizards landed Russell Westbrook from the Houston Rockets, head coach Scott Brooks — who coached Westbrook from 2008-2015 in Oklahoma City — was ecstatic about Bryant’s role on a new-look Wizards squad.
“You’re going to have the best year of your career,” Brooks told him. “You’re going to have a level of expectation that’s going to be a lot higher than what I could do, what any coach could do.”
Veteran center Robin Lopez stepped in at the five after Bryant went down yesterday and totaled 13 points in 21 minutes. Echoing many of his teammates, he discussed why Bryant’s presence on the court will be missed.
“T.B. is a huge part of what we do on both ends of the floor,” Lopez said. “He’s been playing big for us…You love having him on the floor. I love playing with him.”
Former Michigan Wolverine Moritz Wagner, 7-foot-2 2017 first-round pick Anzejs Pasecniks and Lopez are among those the Wizards who could be used at center going forward.
As Brooks discussed Bryant’s uncertain status following last night’s game, there was something else he had to say.
“One thing about T.B.: He’s a great kid that works hard, plays with passion, gives you everything he has.”