Daniel Gafford agrees with Scott Brooks on his conditioning and playing time

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Gafford agrees with Brooks on his conditioning and playing time originally appeared on NBC Sports Washington

Last week, Wizards head coach Scott Brooks offered up a new reason why talented 22-year-old center Daniel Gafford hasn't been playing heavy minutes, despite his impressive level of production. He indicated Gafford is still playing his way into midseason physical shape after previously being out of the rotation in Chicago before he was traded to Washington.

The Wizards like to play fast, which doesn't help Gafford's cause, and Brooks has found Gafford to be most effective in shorter spurts. That way he can play at full speed while sprinting from baseline to baseline.

Gafford was asked about it himself on Friday and he backed up his coach's claims.

"It’s the game of basketball. My conditioning is gonna be there. Sometimes it’s terrible, sometimes it’s better than what it was the day before. I have to really just maintain consistency on where my conditioning is when it comes to doing things off the court and stuff. My conditioning was lopsided at the time [of the trade]. I’ve had a weird year, I’m not going to lie to you," Gafford said.

Gafford was not asked about his weight specifically, though Brooks mentioned it. Basically, Gafford said he understands he needs to further improve his conditioning to play more minutes.

That has been one of the challenges for Gafford, who is now in his second season. Another has been staying out of foul trouble. Aside from those reasons, Gafford's performance has certainly warranted a larger role.

Through 23 games with the Wizards in the regular season, Gafford averaged 10.1 points, 5.6 rebounds and 1.8 blocks per game. He averaged 17.7 minutes, up from the 12.4 minutes he was playing on average with the Bulls.

"Fatigue sets in most of the time. I ask out every now and then when it comes to it, the honor system... I try to do my best to fight through fatigue. If you just kind of let fatigue set in, teams can see that as a weakness and go at you. Most of the time when it sets in, I really try to get guys in that are fresh and anything like that because I don’t want to hold the team back. I don’t want to be out there and be a weak link," Gafford explained.

As Gafford said, sometimes he will alert the coaching staff when he is running low on energy. The coaches will also look for signs of wear, as Brooks tries to manage a three-center rotation that also includes Alex Len and Robin Lopez.

Gafford is part of a group of centers right now and all three of them bring value to the Wizards' rotation. Long-term, he is the team's future at the position, he just has to get up to speed before he can handle more playing time.

"Guys are going to get tired in certain situations and it’s on me to be able to have my conditioning up to where I can withstand a longer stint when I go in the game," Gafford said. "At the end of the day, I understand."