Brandan Wright: Inside Mavs Analysis
When I talked to Brandon Wright just days before the final regular season game he told me that he came to the Mavericks two years ago to prove himself in this league. He was coming off an injury-riddled season and needed an opportunity to show people that he was not just another lottery bust.
It's fair to say that Wright did a good job of proving that he belongs in this league, but the question is will his future be in Dallas?
Even Tyson Chandler.
They all came to the Dallas Mavericks with little hype, hoping to develop into serviceable big men or in Chandler's case, prove he could stay healthy and become a dominant defensive player.
All three got their chances to prove themselves with the Mavericks and when their contracts were up they were all allowed to walk right out the door once proven, destined to show off their newfound confidence and legitimacy for other franchises.
Will Wright be next?
Making Good of an Opportunity
Brandan Wright averaged 8.5 points per game and 4.1 rebounds, which is respectable for a reserve big man, but the statistics might be misleading. For whatever reason (lack of bullish rebounding, mostly), Rick Carlisle took a long time to warm up to Wright. Wright's season is riddled with numerous DNP's by coach's decision and even more games that he played less than 10 minutes. (Meanwhile, there was nary a complaint from Wright, who proved to be a total team player).
Carlisle came around on Wright (with the help of a few nagging injuries to other big men) in April in which he played an average of 23 minutes per game. At times Wright thrived as an energetic center alongside Dirk Nowitzki. While he was pushed around on defense at times, he also picked his spots offensively and left an impact on games.
A great showcase for his skills? Late March, Celtics in Dallas:
Rick's eval of B-Wright: "Gives us activity, gives us a slippery body, plays above the rim, gives us some length defensively with shot blocking and position defense. He's one important puzzle piece to our collective group."
Here are a few random game logs of B-Wright from the last five weeks of the season:
March 8th: 14 points, 70% shooting, 6 rebounds, 3 blocks, 19 minutes
March 10th: 13 points, 86% shooting, 7 rebounds, 27 minutes
March 14th: 10 points, 56% shooting, 8 rebounds, 2 assists, 2 blocks, 24 minutes
March 15th: 13 points, 75% shooting, 5 rebounds 26 minutes
March 18th: 12 points, 56% shooting, 8 rebounds, 2 assists, 21 minutes
March 22nd: 23 points, 69% shooting, 8 rebounds, 30 minutes
March 26th: 11 points, 63% shooting, 7 rebounds, 2 assists, 2 blocks, 31 minutes
March 30th: 17 points, 88% shooting, 13 rebounds, 2 assists, 23 minutes
April 5th: 20 points, 64% shooting, 6 rebounds, 2 blocks, 26 minutes
April 7th: 12 points, 60% shooting, 9 rebounds, 2 blocks, 23 minutes
April 14th: 16 points, 62% shooting, 4 rebounds, 23 minutes
That looks like the work of someone who is doing a lot with a little bit of opportunity. Oh yeah, and in those 11 games the Mavs went 10-1.
Hit the Gym
There's no doubt what Wright needs to do to improve as a player: he needs to put on a little bit of bulk. A few weeks before the season ended Mark Cuban claimed Wright needed to add about 20 or 30 pounds of muscle. That might be a little bit of an exaggeration, as Wright is never going to look like Dwight Howard or even Tyson Chandler, but he can make up for it with quickness, athleticism, and being the first one to jump around the basket.
That being said, Wright could certainly use a little more strength to become less of a liability on defense. He has very good instinct defensively and it's fair to say that he's a quality defensive player, but there are more than a handful of centers in the league that could back him down with relative ease. And playing Wright and Nowitzki together -- effective as Dirk believes it was -- left the team vulnerable to teams with a strong interior presence.
Not to mention that we've seen a whole lot of Wright going up strong for the finish without being able to finish with much contact.
What's going to happen …
I feel pretty strongly that Wright is a player worth keeping. Those statistics mentioned earlier are signs of a player making drastic improvements in his game.
Wright has all the makings of a role player on a successful team. His activity level is high, he's a great locker room guy and he has great athleticism for someone 6-10.
At 25, Wright has shown enough potential for teams to be willing to sign him to a multi-year deal. Unfortunately, I think that's why the Mavericks may end up losing him. The Mavericks will be deeply focused on making major moves this offseason. They will be trying to sign big-time free agents and there's a good chance that while the Mavericks are waiting on commitments from the big names Wright will commit to play elsewhere.
The Mavericks will be trying to create a new identity this offseason. There are plenty of teams that already have their identity and are looking for specific needs. Wright will fill a fair amount of those needs.
Teams pay for this sort of big-man talent. You will recall a year ago Indy spending for Dallas backup center Ian Mahinmi, who signed a four-year, $16-million deal. B-Wright is worth at least that ... and I hope the timing allows it to happen in Dallas.
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