Despite MVP-type performance from Bradley Beal, the Washington Wizards have struggled to a 2-8 start. The troubles continued when Beal missed the most recent game due to covid-19 protocols. In addition, Russell Westbrook will miss his second straight game due to a quadriceps injury.
Perhaps the biggest loss of all is that of center Thomas Bryant, who suffered a partially torn anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee. An MRI was performed on Sunday, the day after the injury. The team has not announced when he will have surgery. Typically, the rehabilitation process takes many months, therefore Bryant will be out for the rest of the season.
The 23-year-old Bryant has started all ten games this season and was averaging 14.3 points and 6.1 rebounds per contest. With Bryant out, Robin Lopez moves into the starting lineup. The 13-year NBA veteran is a solid backup, but hasn’t been a fulltime starter since the 2017-2018 season when he played for the Chicago Bulls. Moritz Wagner, who is averaging 5.8 points in just 11.6 minutes in four games, becomes the backup.
Washington Wizards coach Scott Brooks realizes how big of a loss Bryant is and noted how he’s a great kid that works hard, plays with passion and gives everything he has every time he steps on the court. The Wizards could stand pat, but if they do, will likely play with smaller lineups at times without a legitimate starting center for the long haul.
Another option is to look to make a trade or look into the free agent pool for another center. Neither option is all that attractive since the Wizards don’t have enough top tier talent to trade for a starting center. The bottom line is that if the Wizards are going to get out of their early-season hole, Beal and Westbrook will both have to play at MVP level for the remainder of the season.