Brooks says acquiring Gafford was like adding a top five pick originally appeared on NBC Sports Washington
When the Wizards acquired Daniel Gafford at the trade deadline, little was known about what the athletic and bouncy big would bring to Washington.
A few months later, he added a dimension to the Wizards on both ends of the floor that no one saw coming.
Despite the team’s 129-112 loss in Game 5 to the 76ers, which ended their season, they’ve certainly found something in Gafford, who played 28:44 and tallied eight points, two blocks, two steals and seven rebounds in the season-ending loss. At just 22, the Wizards believe they have got a young player they can work with moving forward.
“Gaff, is to me, like a lottery pick,” coach Scott Brooks said. We got like a top-five pick. He’s a young player with a couple years left on his deal. I can’t wait to see his improvement and work with him all summer long.”
After hardly playing toward the back-half of his tenure in Chicago, Gafford was shipped to Washington at the trade deadline where he played five more minutes than he had in Chicago. He also averaged 0.7 more blocks, 2.3 more rebounds and 5.4 more points than he did as a Bull, too.
Now, the focus for Gafford is on gaining weight — the right kind of weight — in the offseason that will allow him to battle more easily in the paint.
“If I stay locked in mentally and work on my consistency, I can be in this league for a long time,” Gafford said. “Probably a lot of people in the world that would disagree with that, but that’s their opinion. My opinion is that I’m going to make it in this league. That’s just that.”
Everyone sees his potential, as when Bradley Beal and Russell Westbrook addressed the team after the end of Game 5, they made it a point to tell the team to hold their heads high despite the loss. And for Gafford, they made sure he knew what his potential in Washington is.
Gafford has two more years under contract, assuming the team exercises its club option in 2022, meaning Gafford’s impact as a Wizard is just beginning. He doesn’t want it to end here.
“You got two great players in here saying you can do a lot in this league, it means a lot,” Gafford said. “Take this little break, it’s been somewhat of an up-and-down season for me, in general, but other than that, once I get my break out the way, I’m back in the gym and working on my craft. I want to be the best, year-in and year-out. I don’t want to have this good second half of the season that I had and come back next year and, ‘What happened to Daniel Gafford?’”