No question, he’s a special talent. But just how good will be become? That is the pressing question among NBA general managers on draft night when the Jayhawk Nation finds out how high their favorite Wright (North Carolina’s Brandon Wright is also in the draft) will be selected.
One anonymous NBA scout (We’ll call him simply “Scout”) offered his opinion about the rising star he’s seen play over 30 times since high school.
“He’s definitely got kind of a wide range (of where he’ll be picked),” Scout said. “Some guys are kind of locked in about a five-pick window and he’s kind of a 10-pick window. He’s a high risk, high reward kind of guy.”
According to Draftexpress.com, Wright has worked out with the following teams: Minnesota (June 15), Boston (June 18), Milwaukee (June 20 and 22), and Sacramento on June 25. Philadelphia (No. 12 pick) also worked out Wright and UCLA’s Aaron Afflalo on June 26. The Philadelphia Inquirer reported that if the Sixers keep their 12th pick, they may take a small forward like Wright or Florida State’s Al Thornton.
Draftexpress.com wrote that “Julian Wright... has everything working against him at the moment, having some extremely poor workouts that are hurting his stock and making teams as late as Los Angeles at #19 or Miami at #20 wonder if he might be on the board when they pick. One team who has been watching tape heavily of him in their war room came away less than impressed: ‘The more we watch him, the more flaws we see in him. I think we might have all gotten too excited after the Florida game.’ Another team that worked him out recently said that he ‘shot the ball poor from 17 feet and out, and really didn’t do anything to ease our concerns about his NBA position.’”
On the other hand, Chad Ford of ESPN.com reported that Milwaukee at No. 6, Chicago at No. 9, and Sacramento at No. 10 are interested in possibly selecting Wright.
“I would think you could see him go as high as maybe eight, nine, or 10, but more than likely he’s going to be somewhere like 12 to 18,” Scout said. “It would be a real surprise if he did (fall to No. 18), but every few years, there’s one or two guys that fall on draft night for various reasons.”
How about Milwaukee taking him with the sixth pick or Wright’s hometown Chicago Bulls selecting him at No. 9?
“I think at pick six, that’s pretty high for him, but I think that when you talk eight, nine or 10, his name will start to come in the picture a little bit,” Scout said. “I think they’re (Bulls) really close to having a championship-type team, and they’re probably looking for a piece that fits what they need. I don’t necessarily see him maybe being a fit for what they need (Chicago has rising star Luol Deng at small forward), but they could also be in the mode where they feel good about the pieces they have now, and they want to take the best player available regardless of position. I think that’s why they would consider him a little bit. I would surprised if he goes that high, but I wouldn’t rule anything out.”
Scout said it “was definitely something I wouldn’t call out of the realm of possibilities” that Wright could have been the No. 1 pick had he returned to KU for his junior season and entered the 2008 NBA draft. He stated that scouts were sky high on Wright after the Florida game (21 points and 10 rebounds) last November in Las Vegas, but the Chicago native’s stock fell afterwards.
“After how he started, he was definitely a top 10 pick,” Scout said. “After the Florida game, he really had a lot of buzz around his game. But I think scouts were kind of disappointed he didn’t excel down the stretch, especially in the (NCAA) tournament. I think we were hoping for more for him; I thought he was kind of inconsistent, especially in the conference season.”
As for his reported subpar workouts, Wright suffered a sprained ankle during his workout in Boston on June 18. And Scout said those individual workouts aren’t that conducive to such a team player as Wright.
“Some guys excel in a workout setting because they’re really good offensively, just skilled one-on-one players," Scout said, "where some guys need other players on the floor to make plays and read the defense and do things like that. You can’t really gauge that in a setting where it’s not five-on-five, live play.”
So with all the workouts done and draft night finally here, where does Scout think Wright will be picked?
“That’s a tough one,” Scout replied. “If I had to guess, I would probably say Washington (No. 16) or New Jersey (No. 17) would be the bottom. If I had a gun to my head, maybe I would say New Orleans (No. 13) if I had to guess, just because I think they’re looking for that position. Philadelphia or New Orleans, I think he could go to, but I think he could also go all the way down down to possibly Washington or New Jersey.”
USC’s Nick Young has been a popular pick at No. 13 to New Orleans on many mock drafts.
“I could definitely see that, too,” Scout said. “Julian is going to be competing with guys like Nick Young and Thaddeus Young, and Al Thornton. Those guys all play his position and they’re all kind of in that same range of the draft.”
Scout said it’s imperative that Wright gets with a fast, uptempo team that plays small to fully showcase his athletic ability where he can “outquick and outrun people.”
“If he can become a guy that can make a jump shot, then he’s definitely a starter in our league,” Scout said. “ I think he’s going to have to be in the right environment if he’s ever going to be an all-star. That’s going to be really critical for the type of success he has in our league being in a system that suits his style. ...I would say he could be a starter in possibly two or three years if he gets with the right team.”