The athletic second-year big man has seen an increased role with the Wizards, who are currently the No. 10 seed in the East with a 32-38 record. Washington is 13-6 since Gafford became a regular part of the lineup.
Gafford averaged 12.4 minutes per game in 31 contests for the Bulls. In 21 games for the Wizards, Gafford is averaging 10.1 PPG, 5.6 RPG, and an astronomical 1.8 BPG, even though his minutes have increased by just 5.3 MPG a night (to 17.7).
“When I got here, it clicked automatically because you got two point guards who really know the game, and really know how to facilitate and play-make,” Gafford said of his perspective on the trade to the Wizards. He hopes to continue to expand his defensive attributes with his new team. “I’m good at blocking shots, [but] at the same time, I can be able to contain the ball up at the key if I put my mind [to it].”
There’s more out of the Southeast Division:
- New Magic wing Gary Harris has proven to be a locker room leader during his brief time with Orlando, writes Roy Parry of the Orlando Sentinel. “When you have time to spend with him and you watch him in practice, you watch the way he integrates with his teammates and everything, he has character both on the court and off the court,” head coach Steve Clifford raved. “Obviously those are the guys that you want talking in the huddles, talking in the locker room because he believes and he talks about the right things.” Harris will earn $20.48MM in 2021/22 before becoming eligible for free agency next summer.
- Heat guard Victor Oladipo had a successful season-ending surgery on the pesky right quadriceps tendon that he initially injured in 2019, per a team press release. A timeline for his return has not been disclosed, but he’ll miss the entire 2020/21 postseason. Oladipo will be an unrestricted free agent this summer and his checkered injury history figures to hurt his value.
- In a wide-ranging interview with Alex Kennedy of Basketball News, rookie Magic guard R.J. Hampton discussed his first NBA season and his tenures in Denver and Orlando thus far. Hampton averaged just 9.3 MPG across 25 games with the championship-contending Nuggets. Since being dealt to the Magic in March, Hampton has seen a significant increase in all his counting stats. He is averaging 24.8 MPG, and putting up 10.8 PPG, 4.6 RPG, and 2.5 APG a night. “Now, I’m getting an opportunity to play, but I think throughout my whole season, I’ve progressed a little bit day-by-day and just gotten better over the course of these months,” Hampton told Kennedy. “I don’t think there are really any cons for me in Orlando; this is what I wanted. I wanted to be on a team where I could play and grow and help my team get wins. Those were the biggest pros and cons, and differences.”