Coach Em Up: How Mavs Need B-Wright's Stuff
Welcome back to a long awaited (we hope) edition of Coach ‘em Up'' ... just in time for a Dallas Mavericks playoff run!
Does this team have what it takes to make some noise in the playoffs? Do they have the "Wright" stuff?
There is a temptation, a justification and a danger in falling in love with the new kid -- even if he is freakishly athletic and an all-around nice kid. The Mavs still wrestle with that in regard to Roddy B ... and now they do it with former lottery pick Brandan Wright.
But we'll take the risk and say that Brandan Wright might play a huge role in determining the team's destiny this season -- and that even if Dallas plays the Lakers in Round 1, he should be given that opportunity.
The Mavs' in-house views on this have leaked out quietly, and the reviews are not positive.
Here's coach Rick Carlisle before the Lakers game: We don't want to get in that situation if we can avoid it. ... We'd rather keep bigger-bodied guys on Bynum if we can.''
Here's Dirk Nowitzki after the OT loss at LA in which Wright was not a part of the regular rotation: "We like what he brings obviously, but to guard Bynum, he's a little too light in the pants."
And then, oddly, somehow BWright was judged to be lacking in the Utah 3OT game, too?
We dare to believe that they are wrong. ... that like Roddy B before him, Wright brings a little something different to the court that offsets the few negatives ... and that if Dallas doesn't roll the dice on the positives, the club is less likely to prevail in the postseason.
Wright pairs with Roddy B to provide some much needed youth and athleticism, he runs the floor and finishes with style, and he plays defense with great quickness and leaping ability. It can be argued that Delonte is supplanting Beaubois as the guard who can do some of those things while also being more reliable.
But if not Wright as a rotation player in the frontcourt, then who?
Wright can do some of the things TY did in days gone by -- and we say that with full understanding of how blasphemous it sounds. Although he lacks the physical strength of a traditional 5, Brandan patrols the paint reasonably well. His natural quickness and leaping ability combined with excellent timing and a long frame allow him to overcome his physical weakness in most situations. He may never be able to match Tyson (or even Haywood) as a one-on-one post defender, but he definitely brings exceptional help- and screen-roll defense to the party.
Oh, and he is dynamite in transition:
In the clip we see Wright's quickness on display both in help defense and in transition. He effortlessly crosses the lane to deny Speights an easy basket off of a great spin move and then out runs everyone else up the court to catch and finish a lob from Roddy B.
B-Wright's impact doesn't consist solely of help defense and transition dunks (that would make him more Ryan Hollins than an actual NBA player). He plays exceptionally well in the screen-roll on the offensive end. Watch here: Wright does a nice job of creating separation from the defense on the roll and finishing with an electric slam or little tear drop/jump hook.
From a coaching/scouting perspective, we liken Wright to someone who is borrowing tools from the Tyson Chandler kit and the Blake Griffin kit, but doesn't yet fully know how to operate those tools. And again, we're careful about the blasphemy.
Brandan does employ freakish athletic ability, exceptional hands, and defensive quickness/anticipation, but he lacks a true nose for the rebound and the physical strength and toughness that have come to define both Griffin and Chandler. He also lacks any sort of offensive game outside the paint -- and in that negative sense, he's like TY and Griffin, too.
We know that some of B-Wright's future is set; the Mavs want him to beef up a bit (without becoming stiff and bulky) and they believe he's got the natural touch that can allow him to mature as a mid-range offensive threat. We also know that some of his long-term future is not set; he's a "keeper,'' but that also makes him a swapable commodity in the summer.
But what about now?
Against the Lakers, Dallas must get five men running. He can be one of those five. It can be argued that he doesn't have the heft to stay with the bulky Grizzlies and Clippers. ... or that he doesn't have the experience to deal with the Spurs ... or ... on and on.
But, Wright tells ESPN this week, "Whenever I've played, I've been productive. If I'm on the floor, I'll be productive. I'm not really worried about the matchup.''
There is an opportunity for the Mavs to dictate the matchup as best they can and to dictate pace as well. Wright provides that opportunity. He's been good enough to be near-dominant in games against teams all year (including but not limited to have-nots in Golden State and Portland last week).
His athleticism translates. Or, at least, it must, if the Mavs are to look less like this year's sluggish-with-Lamar Mavs and more like last year's dynamic-with-TY Mavs.
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