Before finding a home in Dallas during the summer of 2011, Brandan Wright bounced from one team to another, playing for three teams over the course of the 2010-11 season after missing the previous season entirely thanks to a shoulder injury and spending the two before that languishing on Don Nelson's Golden State bench.
Trouble getting onto the court, whether thanks to injuries or real or perceived shortcomings, has followed Wright his whole career, despite being drafted eighth overall and performing well, particularly on offense. Whether you prefer metrics of the PER or Win Shares variety, Wright has always been an above-average player, so it's been great to see his minutes increase during his time in Dallas. Let's hope that trend continues in 2014-15.
Looking Back at Last Year
Brandan Wright missed the first 23 games of last year with an injury to the same shoulder that kept him in street clothes for most of 2009 and 2010, but once he was back, he was great. A bit undersized as a center (he compensates with his enormous wingspan), Wright was nevertheless fantastic at finishing at the rim, though if you want a more comprehensive breakdown of his offensive strengths and weaknesses, take a look at this Hal Brown longread from last season. Wright's 2013-14 shot chart is absolutely beautiful and demonstrates his efficiency and strong shot selection:
Though he's sometimes criticized for his defensive blunders, he's not a bad defender overall, but he certainly wasn't thriving on that end of the floor in the Mavericks' less than stellar team defense.
Best Case Scenario
Wright was brought to Dallas in an effort to replace Tyson Chandler following the 2011 championship and has played most of his minutes on the Mavericks at center. But with Chandler back in town and Wright shifted to power forward, it will be interesting to see what the two can do on the court together. If Carlisle plays the two simultaneously, it should represent a major defensive upgrade over last year. Wright has been picked on in years past for his lack of defensive skills, but he's not that bad a defender. He stays out of foul trouble, and though he's several inches shorter than Dirk (who he'll be backing up at the 4), he has a ridiculous 7'5" wingspan that helps him block shots and guard more mobile defenders. He's never really been able to bulk up, so getting him out of the low post on defense may help considerably.
There's probably not a lot more you can reasonably ask of Wright offensively, but hopefully Carlisle can also find a way to use him in rotations that include newcomers (and defensive stalwarts) Chandler and Farouq Al-Aminu to help improve team defense.
Worst Case Scenario
For all his talent, Brandan Wright has never played 82 games in a season. He managed 74 during his three-team season in 2010-11, but still played fewer than 800 minutes total. Although some of his absences have been due to coaching decisions, the most plausible worst case for a player as skilled as Wright is another injury to the shoulder that's bothered him in the past.
Will Brandan Wright finally get his due?
One of the few knocks on Rick Carlisle over the years has been his reluctance to play younger players and develop new talent. Wright struggled to get minutes off the bench his first year and has occasionally fallen out of the rotation over the last two, though his playing time has increased dramatically. Now that Wright is aging into veteran territory, will he finally get the time and recognition he deserves, especially if that could help keep the aging Dirk's minutes low during the regular season?
The Washington Post had a nice piece late last season comparing Wright to rising star Anthony Davis and asking this same question. Wright has consistently put up the numbers of a star. Will this be the year everyone finally notices?