ESPN's John Hollinger on Brandan Wright's 2007-2008 season: "I'm trying to stop myself from getting too excited since it was only 377 minutes, but man ... [Brandon Wright] looked fantastic, and I'm a little puzzled as to why he didn't play more." With all the talk about trades and potential for next season, I got to thinking about Brandon Wright.
Wright's 7'4" wingspan allows his hook shot to soar over all comers.
Some fans say of Wright, "...a bust," "...the dood [sic] sucks," or "Don't renew." However, as Hollinger points out, he simply needs to put on some weight and develop a jump shot, and he'll be "a very capable power forward." What does Hollinger see in him?
How about his PER: 18.8. On the Warriors, only Andris Biedrins had higher. His PER is comparable to players like Jason Terry, Carmelo Anthony, David West, Chauncey Billups and Caron Butler, while it surpasses the PERS of Carlos Boozer, Andre Iguodala, Richard Hamilton and ironically, Jason Richardson.
The PER, it should be noted, doesn't take into account every defensive contribution nor does it consider actual playing time. As our own Atma Brother ONE points out, "Wright has been injury-prone," and "absolutely lost on defense." Despite Wright's excellent timing and length for shot blocking, he's not the ideal defender: not following Nellie's defensive rotations properly and his questionable man to man defense tarnish the overall package. Furthermore, if he is as injury prone as some think, he won't contribute as much and his growth will be stifled.
How likely is it that he'll overcome his more pressing shortcomings?
His Lack of Muscle: Wright turns 22 in October. Runners peak at about 23 judging by Usain Bolt and Carl Louis. But what about strength training and body building? There have been many Mr. Olympia champions well over thirty. Growing muscle can continue for decades past a person's physical peak. How about for pure strength? In the World's Strongest Man competitions, Magnus Ver Magnusson won his first championship at about 28, while Mariusz Pudzianowski won his first at about 25. Wright may have six or more years before he reaches his peak in strength. It's up to him and his trainers whether he takes the most advantage of what appears to be limited potential in this area. Look for an increase in muscularity and strength in the next few years. Age is a big factor in this; both time and human physiology must be considered.
Being Injury Prone: The first question one might ask is, is he actually injury prone? Whether he is nor not, let me simply suggest that muscle, bone structure and body control prevent injury. Wright's athleticism, despite his limited lateral speed, suggests good body control, while as one can see above, Wright has time to get a lot stronger. He'll need it to prevent future injuries to that shoulder of his. As far as his bone structure, he's relatively light, he's hopefully very symmetrical, and let's hope he doesn't have structural defects in his feet.
His Poor Jump Shooting Ability: How is Brandan's jump shot? Draft Express explains, "Although the form on his shot is very awkward, Wright seems to have no problem knocking down the mid range jumper when left open..." That was from 2005. The people with the best jump shots go with the form recommended by the professionals. Once one has "fossilized" their form, it can be tough to change it. This may be why we don't see Wright shooting jumpers. I find it likely that as he works to improve his form, his jump shooting FG% has diminished, not unlike how Biedrin's FT% has dropped since he improved his form. Is it possible that his hook shot can get enough range to help compensate for a weak jumper? I don't think this is implausible. Hopefully, though, his inchoate jump shot will evolve to the team's benefit.
His Shaky Defense: Defense improves with time, training and motivation. If he has the desire and continues to play in this league, as expected, we should see a gradual improvement in this area. Furthermore, bulking up will be a tremendous help in defending bigs. His defensive rebounding needs work as well. Perhaps conditioning and strength will improve this deficiency.
How good will Brandan get? Some say, keep Brandan Wright at PF, eventually playing Anthony Randolph more at SF. While unlikely, it may come together. But it's far more likely that Brandan and Anthony would continue to compete for minutes, should Wright not get traded. If he stays with Golden State, and improves quickly, GSoMers will have reason to celebrate. Should he not develop well, the Dubs have lost an opportunity to take advantage of apparent upside in a trade. The F.O. has a big decision to make with Brandan Wright. This isn't like getting rid of our old futon.