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How concerning is Thomas Bryant’s ACL injury history?

Thomas Bryant ruptured his ACL in 2020 and has only played in 37 games since. What can the Lakers expect from him?

Minnesota Timberwolves v Los Angeles Lakers Photo by Jayne Kamin-Oncea/Getty Images

After a four-year stint away from the franchise — all with the Washington Wizards — Thomas Bryant has returned to the Lakers, the team that drafted him in the second round of the 2017 NBA Draft. Yet another success story for the Lakers’ vaunted scouting department, Bryant’s returned to contend for the team’s new opening at the starting center position on a minimum contract.

Bryant’s profile as a sharpshooting stretch-5 with above average lateral movement for his size is one the team has sorely lacked for years. His signing along with Damion Jones’ now gives the Lakers a versatile, dynamic, and young pair of 5s to work along the foundation of new coach Darvin Ham’s system.

However, we may need to pump the brakes on anointing Bryant as the next great Laker big — he ruptured his anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) 10 games into the 2020 season and only played in 27 games last season after returning from reconstruction surgery where he scarcely looked like his former self.

Could his substandard performance last season be little more than rust, or does Bryant’s recent injury history merit real concern? I explained in the following video.

Of course, only time will tell if Bryant’s health and performance are up to par, but there’s always some inherent risk following an ACL reconstruction surgery and return to play.

In the meantime, I’m sure Bryant and the Lakers training staff will be focused on building out his fitness with a methodical strength and conditioning plan that will have him ready for the season, and hopefully for both himself and the Lakers, an extended playoff run.

Dr. Rajpal Brar, DPT has a doctorate in physical therapy from Northern Arizona University, and runs his own in-person and online sports medicine and performance business, 3CB Performance, in West LA and Valencia, CA in which he further combines his movement expertise and fitness training. He also works at a hospital — giving him experience with patients in the immediate healthcare setting and neurological patients (post stroke, post brain injury) — and has been practicing for 4 years. Brar is additionally training at UCLA’s mindful awareness research center (MARC), has a background in youth basketball coaching and analyzes the Lakers from a medical and skills perspective for Silver Screen and Roll and on his own YouTube Channel. You can follow him on Twitter at @3cbPerformance.