Thomas Bryant runs the floor, hits 3-pointers and plays above the rim.
In short, the 20-year-old following the blueprint of a modern center.
He flashed all three of those skills in the South Bay Lakers’ 119-113 loss to Westchester on Friday, racking up 32 points and 10 rebounds.
The Knicks couldn’t keep Bryant out of the paint, as he threw down five dunks — including an and-1 slam and monster alley-oop — while mixing in a layup and hook shot.
And he made them pay for failing to cover him on pick-and-pops, using his quick trigger and high release point to sink three 3-pointers. He was fouled twice from downtown, completing a four-point play and adding three free throw attempts.
Bryant shot 10-of-18 from the field and 8-of-9 at the foul line. He added some nice reads with his passes, dishing out a season-high five assists and one turnover.
The 42nd pick of the 2017 Draft is now averaging 24.4 points, 7.9 rebounds, 3.1 triples and 1.8 blocks, while shooting 60.1 percent from the field and 45.9 percent on 3-pointers.
— South Bay Lakers (@SouthBayLakers) December 16, 2017
With the NBA’s Los Angeles Lakers well-stocked at center — rotating Brook Lopez, Julius Randle and Andrew Bogut — Bryant has been biding his time and honing his craft with South Bay.
One of his biggest challenges has been improving his ability to switch defensively; something the is a key component for both the NBA and G League Lakers.
Bryant didn’t do much switching in his past two seasons at Indiana University, so he is learning the nuances on the fly.
Before the NBA Draft, he made it a point to work on his mobility and leg strength, knowing how valuable the skill is in the modern NBA.
While he has shown talent as a rim protector (another key area for both Lakers teams), there have been more growing pains when switched onto the speedy, 3-point-happy guards of the NBA G League.
But Bryant feels that he has already made strides in a defensive area that is foreign to him, and is embracing the grind of learning a vital skill.
“There’s still room for improvement,” Bryant said. “I know it, everybody knows it. But I’m taking on the challenge head (on).”