Bryant spent only one season with the Los Angeles Lakers, who selected him 42nd overall in the 2017 draft, before they waived him in June 2018. The Lakers were largely concerned with freeing up as much salary-cap space as possible to pursue marquee free agents.
The Wizards took advantage of the situation and quickly claimed Bryant off waivers. He appeared in 72 games, averaging 10.5 points, 6.3 rebounds and 0.9 blocks. He finished 23rd among centers in real plus-minus (plus-0.96), per ESPN.com.
While Bryant's production doesn't jump off of the page, his numbers weren't bad for a 21-year-old center who played just 72 minutes as a rookie. The Wizards were also left with Tomas Satoransky and Chasson Randle as their top two point guard options following John Wall's heel injury, which was less than ideal for a post player who can't yet create his own shot.
"It feels great," Bryant said of his year, per NBC Sports Washington's Chase Hughes. "It's a step in the right direction. I can't tell you how happy I am for the improvement in just a year."
More impressive than Bryant's raw scoring numbers was how he got them. According to NBA.com, 28.3 percent of his field-goal attempts were catch-and-shoot situations, when he connected on 40.1 percent of his opportunities. He was also 33-of-99 on three-pointers.
Bryant showed encouraging signs on defense, too. He held opponents to 59.8 percent shooting inside six feet and 56.9 percent inside 10 feet, per NBA.com. He wasn't a glaring liability away from the basket, as opposing players shot 36.9 percent on three-pointers when matched up against him.
Bryant indicated a desire to re-sign with the Wizards this offseason, per Hughes: "It would be great [to stay here]. I love this place. I love the Washington Wizards. I love playing with all of these guys. I love playing with Brad. I love playing with Troy [Brown Jr.], everybody. I love the coaching staff as well. Just being here. They gave me an opportunity to play. Why would I want to leave?"
Washington had every reason to grant Bryant's wish. The team would've been looking at Dwight Howard or Ian Mahinmi as the starting center with him out of the picture.
Taking a wider view of the roster, he's one of the few Wizards players who fits with a franchise that's probably staring down an inevitable rebuild.
Wall is almost certainly going to miss the entire 2019-20 season, and his four-year, $169.3 million super-max extension makes it difficult to assemble a strong supporting cast around him and Bradley Beal.
The Wizards are stuck with a flawed roster and little in the way of promising young players who inspire hope for the future. Bryant is an exception, and watching him depart for another team would've been another cruel twist of the knife for fans.