We're about a quarter of the way through another fine NBA season and we still don't know all that much about rookies Brandan Wright and Marco Belinelli. To date they haven't played enough minutes combined in the NBA to fill up an episode of 60 Minutes. To satisfy our thirst for knowledge we decided to check in with draft guru Aran Smith from NBADraft.net whose work was recently praised in Sports Illustrated. Since we somehow managed to catch this very busy man, we also decided to talk a little bit about the 2008 NBA Draft- hey, it's never too early for real hoops junkies!
Those of you who frequent NBADraft.net for all the fun year-round mocks might not know this, but Aran grew up in the Bay as a Warriors fan and is based in the city. The only thing that tops that is his dad is a loyal longtime reader of GSoM, so shout out to Mr. Smith!
Taking it Wright to the Rim!
(Photo by Ned Dishman/NBAE via Getty Images)
Use your hops to check out Aran's thoughts on Brandan Wright.
Golden State of Mind: Brandan Wright has gotten a reputation as not fully utilizing all his all-world talents because he didn't always seem to play hard at UNC (the "IF" factor). How much should the Warriors be worried about his drive? Also with guys like Baron Davis, Stephen Jackson, and Matt Barnes the Warriors are a pretty fiery and intense bunch. How do you think Wright will fit in with the culture of this cast of Warriors on the court during his rookie season?
Aran Smith (NBADraft.net): I think he'll be fine. He works hard at his game and wants to improve. Although he's not a real fiery guy, that won't keep him from being an impact player in the future. Most importantly for him is to get stronger and find his optimum playing weight. He's in the perfect situation on the Warriors with his ability to run the floor and beat opponents down the court, as well as be a factor defensively with his length. As far as fitting in with the other Warriors, I think every team needs a mix of vocal guys and guys who lead by example. Brandon adds a good piece to the club both on and off the court.
Golden State of Mind: In Wright's NBADraft.net profile his NBA comparisons are Chris Bosh and Shareef Abdur-Rahim, which seems like both a tremendous compliment and a big expectation. Bosh has bloomed into a 20-10 big man and although he's slowed down recently Abdur-Rahim had a string of 20-8+ seasons in the late 90's and earlier part of this decade. The Warriors could desperately use a forward-center of that caliber. In your estimation how long will it take Wright to become that kind of player?
Aran Smith (NBADraft.net): He's going to progress steadily. Those are high expectations, but he has the potential to become that caliber of player. I spoke with one GM in Orlando (predraft camp) who questioned Wright's free throw shooting % and the fact that he didn't have range and wouldn't be able to score close to the basket due to lack of strength. But I countered with the fact that he's just 19 and should be able to fill out and that he shows a soft touch on his shot within 8 feet and should be able to extend that range in time. Wright should focus on shortening his free throw motion. He has the touch, but his form is too difficult to replicate each time.
Golden State of Mind: One of the major story lines for the Warriors this season is whether or not trading fan favorite Jason Richardson for Brandan Wright was a good basketball move. Do you think it was the right move for this team both in the short term and long term? The Warriors definitely needed another forward/ center, but is Wright the right man for the job?
Aran Smith (NBADraft.net): I love the trade. Richardson is one of those guys who won't be nearly as effective when his athleticism begins to drop off. He's 28 and already entering his twilight. This move gave rising star Kelenna Azubuike a chance to play plus the Warriors were able to land Belinelli later in the draft who should be their SG of the future. As great a character guy and fan favorite as Richardson was, this move keeps the Warriors young and gives them more promise for the future.
- Brandan Wright's profile on NBADraft.net
- GSoM Q&A: Jonathan Givony of DraftExpress on Brandan Wright
Stay tuned for Aran's thoughts on rookie Marco Belinelli and his preview of the 2008 NBA Draft!