John Bryant was one of the top rookie big men in the D-League this season. The 2009 WCC Player of the Year, Bryant averaged 13.4 points per game. He was even more effective on the boards. His 9.5 rebounds per game led the team and placed him eighth in the league. And at 7.4 defensive rebounds per game, Bryant ranked third.
Bryant also finished seventh in the league in double-doubles with 20 and seventh in blocks at 1.49 per game.
Offensively, Bryant has great touch for a big man. One of Erie's go-to plays was the pick and pop with Cedric Jackson and John Bryant. Big Bad John consistently nailed the jumper from the foul line or top of the key. He shot 49.6 percent from the field for the season. The one area of his offensive game that could use more work is down low on the block, where he often takes too long to initiate his move and looks indecisive or slow.
Conditioning is another question mark for the 300-pound Bryant. If he could shed some weight and get into better shape, he could get a look from an NBA team. He played just under 30 minutes per game, so it's not like he's unable to play long stretches, but it's visible to anyone watching that he doesn't have the prototypical NBA body, and he struggled against quicker, more athletic centers.
Defensively, Bryant was a key cog in Erie's defense, which ranked first in the league in defensive field goal percentage at 44.7 percent (thanks to Bob Chaikin for providing that stat.) In addition to the blocked shots, Bryant did a great job of altering countless others. On top of that, the mere presence of a 6'11", 300-pounder in the middle worked as a deterrent to keep players out of the paint in the first place, forcing tougher shots.
Bryant's future will be interesting to monitor. His combination of size and skill makes him one worth watching. As a rookie, he showed flashes of NBA potential. He also seemed overwhelmed at times by the speed of the game against certain opponents. I think if he returns to the D-League next season, Bryant could position himself for a call-up next season, but it will take a serious commitment on his part to improve not just his game but his conditioning and weight as well.