Together We Can Break This Trap

A few posts ago, I covered the logic of trading Jason Richardson for help inside, so this one will cover Brandan Wright. Reports have said that the deal was predetermined, and that MJ would select one of a group (based on the Warriors' preference) that included Wright, Yi, Jeff Green, and Joakim Noah. I think Wright was the best choice out of that group, and here’s why.

Anyone who watched Wright at UNC this year should have been impressed by his outrageous athleticism. He gets off the ground very quickly, and his long arms make it very easy for him to block shots or grab passes. This video takes a long time to get into the actual highlight, but around the 40 second mark you’ll see Wright grab an entry pass from Tywon Lawson and dunk it quickly.

The play is not out-of-this-world, but the fact that it appears common obscures some of Wright’s effects on the play. First, it’s a great pass by Lawson, but it’s not one that you’d usually see a point guard make to a college big man. It only works with Wright because he’s able to get it easily, and the fact that Lawson knew it would work suggests that Wright does stuff like that all the time. Second, it’s a really fantastic catch by Wright, a one-handed grab that moves seamlessly into the dunk. Very few college big men can actually do that, and when you look at plays like this one it becomes easy to see why people were talking about this guy as the third-best prospect in the draft for most of the college season.

The most unreal highlight of Wright on the tubes, though, is the one above, an absolutely ridiculous block-and-catch of a reverse layup. Things like this don’t happen in basketball games at high levels. He’s somewhat out of position after the move by Brandon Costner, but he recovers quickly and swallows the ball whole. In that brief moment, you see everything Wright does defensively: fundamentals in need of some work, incredible quickness (foot and jump), and the ability to catch reverse layups.

He also runs the floor incredibly well, so he should have no problem with Nelson’s speed of play. This highlight is from high school, but speed doesn’t change much when you switch levels of play.

There are some obvious concerns. Most importantly, he desperately needs to put on weight (205 at the pre-draft camp) if he wants to bang with the best big guys in the NBA. Additionally, Nelson players usually need to shoot to be able to play a lot. Wright can hit some mid-range jumpers, but he looks uncomfortable doing it most of the time, so he’ll need to work on fluidity a little bit to improve consistency. Nellie usually doesn’t like to play two guys who can’t shoot on the floor at the same time, so don’t expect too many Biedrins/Wright frontcourt pairings early in the year. Third, Nellie has had some bad history in terms of being hard on rookies. That doesn’t mean he won’t play Wright, but Webber won ROTY and hated Nelson. The last concern is that Wright doesn’t have much of a work ethic, but I hope the year of college helped speed the maturation process and convinced him that he couldn’t coast in the best leagues in the world.

Despite these concerns, I think that picking up Wright was the right thing to do. He has been compared to Chris Bosh for at least three years (when I first heard about him), and Bosh is the perfect sort of power forward for the Warriors system. Wright might never develop his skills to the point where they reach Bosh’s level, but I’ll take a slightly less refined version of Chris Bosh any day.

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