Measured at seven-feet tall in the 2009 Portsmouth Invitational and currently listed at 280 pounds, John Bryant has the prototypical size and post game you would want in a big man. Bryant can set deep position in the low post thanks to his very large frame, and possesses a diverse arsenal of moves and the foot work to consistently score with his back to the basket at the mid-tier level of the European game that is the German league. He often favors getting too fancy displaying his soft touch rather than straight up bulling opponents into submission with his strength, though.
But Bryant is also a huge asset to Bayern Müenchen’s offense facing the basket. He is a great passer from the perimeter, ranking second in the German league in assist rate among centers and in the top 15 among position peers in the Euroleague. And he is a capable three-point shooter as well, hitting 30.4% of his 102 attempts from beyond the arc in both leagues, which was actually down from the 37.8% clip over 190 shots he hit with Ratiopharm Ulm in the previous two seasons.
Though a very good screener who looks to make contact and free the ball-handler, Bryant is not a good pick-and-roll player, as rapidly cutting to the basket after setting a ball-screen seems like a chore for him. That was another reason why he wasn’t below the rim enough, aside from spotting up and passing facing the defense, which is why he was a below average factor on the offensive glass despite being a difficult body to box out and possessing a seven-foot-four wingspan that should help him rebound outside of his area. Bryant can play above the rim when running with momentum but doesn’t get much elevation against length at the highest level of competition and finished his 77 attempts at the basket in 447 Euroleague minutes at a disturbing 55.8% clip.
Bayern scored 5.6 points per 100 possessions more with him on the bench rather than on the floor in the Euroleague. It scored slightly better with him in the lineup in the German league, half-a-point per 100 possessions more. They allowed points at about the same per-possession rate with or without him in the Euroleague, but only 98.9 points per 100 possessions with him in the game in the German league, the best defensive rating among players in the league.
But Bryant is a limited defender, a foul machine who averaged about six per 40 minutes last season. Despite his size, head-coach Svetislav Pesic actually had him guarding way high in the perimeter on pick-and-rolls. He is not comfortable defending in space and when he didn’t foul, little guards easily went around him. Bryant is best suited for a scheme that leverages his size by having him hang back to protect the lane and being a presence at the rim. He was a below average shot blocker at the Euroleague level but ranked seventh in the German league in block rate among centers. It could at least help minimize his risk for picking up cheap fouls.
Aside from defending the post where he can’t be moved because of his strong base, he really made an impact on the glass. Bryant led the German league in defensive rebounding rate and ranked sixth in the Euroleague, grabbing over 28% of opponents’ misses. He is disciplined boxing out opponents and his wide body makes it difficult for them to try rebounding over him.
Editor’s Note: Huge thanks to Jannes Schäffer from court-side.de for providing video that made this evaluation possible. Court-side.de is a website that focuses on analytics for the German league and it’s highly recommended a look. Jannes can be followed on twitter @courtsideBBL.
An earlier version of this post contained some inaccuracies regarding Bryant’s on/off splits in the German league, which were corrected thanks to Jannes Schäffer’s help.
Rafael Uehara is the managing editor of ‘Basketball Scouting’. More of his work can be found here or at Upside & Motor, where he is a regular contributor. He can be followed on twitter as @rafael_uehara.