Stock soaring: Daniel Gafford
The 25-year-old big man has been dealing with nagging injuries off the court and foul trouble on the court, but when he is available to play, he is playing the best basketball of his career.
Gafford started the season as the full-time starter for the first time in his career. The organization trusted him with the role as they didn’t bring in another center who could replace him in the starting unit. And in the four games he was able to suit up in, Gafford delivered starter-caliber performances.
The main issue for Gafford continues to be foul trouble. He averages 4.3 fouls in 24.8 minutes per game. He still needs to get stronger and not get pushed around to help reduce his fouling. However, this is also because he is being more aggressive and physical to start the season. And that is a great sign.
In the first quarter against the Philadelphia 76ers, Gafford had a career-high five blocks, most of them coming against the reigning MVP Joel Embiid. On the other end, he scored a super-efficient 12 points on 6/7 shooting. He was an excellent lob threat and a pick-and-roll finisher. In fact, despite the final score of the game, in the 30 minutes Gafford played, the Wizards were only outscored by four points.
For the season, Gafford is averaging 8 points, 7 rebounds, and 2.8 blocks. He made 12 of his 14 field goal attempts. If he is able to stay out of foul trouble and play more minutes, all of his averages should see an uptick. A highly efficient roll man who can protect the rim is a valuable player in the league, and Gafford has the opportunity to establish himself as one this season.