Here are the Mavericks’ top 3 all-time team leaders in Player Efficiency Rating:
- Luka Doncic - 23.1
- Brandon Wright - 22.6
- Dirk Nowitzki - 22.4
That’s right, sandwiched between the franchise GOAT and arguably the most decorated 21 year old in league history (it’s either Luka or Magic Johnson) is Brandan Wright, a journeyman backup who never averaged 20 minutes a game in any season.
Now, to be fair, the fact that Wright was used sparingly and often against second units is surely a big factor in his keeping such rarefied company, and one of the main reasons(along with health issues) that he never held down a starting gig anywhere is that he was a bit of a tweener on defense, which isn’t represented fully in a metric like PER.
But, that all aside, let me tell you if are a more recent convert to Mavericks fandom: Brandan Wright was a spectacularly good offensive player. The former 8th overall pick landed in Dallas on a super cheap deal in the off-season following Dallas’ 2011 title run. Having fallen out of favor in Golden State due to injuries and a change in management, Wright was looking to hold on to an NBA job, and in Dallas he found an ideal spot to restart his career.
The Mavericks boast one of the league’s most respected training staffs, headed by Casey Smith, and Wright’s four seasons in Dallas were by far his healthiest. The other reason Wright thrived in Dallas was thanks to Rick Carlisle’s heavy pick-and-roll offense, which let Wright use his length, springy athleticism, and soft touch to absolutely torch opposing defenses.
In addition to PER, Wright is also second in franchise history in field goal percentage (behind another elite pick-and-roll finisher, Tyson Chandler), and Wright’s ability to finish just about any lob thrown his way earned him the nickname “The Helicopter” from Dallas play by play man Mark Followill. While dunks did make up a lot of his offense, let me reemphasize that Wright had surprisingly good touch around the basket. Even if his lane to the basket was blocked, Wright could convert short one-handed floaters and hooks in the paint with ease.
Wright’s time in Dallas came to end with the now infamous Rajon Rondo trade, which also sadly marked the beginning of the end for Wright’s career. The injury bug continued to saddle Wright, as the big man managed to play less than 70 games over his final three seasons. Fittingly, however, in that Rondo trade, which has long been considered one of the more disastrous in team history, Dallas managed to acquire the player who perhaps most resembles Wright in terms of play style: Dwight Powell.
Underrated, underdog, call Wright what you will, but he was an outstanding player in Dallas and one who should be remembered fondly.