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NBA Summer Rotation-rie League scouting: Brandan Wright still a work-in-progress

With a career mired with injuries, Brandan Wright is one of the few, if any, 3rd year bonafide rotation players in the NBA making his 3rd appearance in this year's NBA Summer League.

How is it going so far here in Las Vegas? Well, it's all relative, I suppose.

He could be in danger of becoming a bust from the 2007 NBA Draft as the No. 8 pick overall by the Warriors, or he could be a solid starter which is perhaps all that you could ask being drafted in the latter half of the lottery picks. Here are the players up to #15 that were selected after Wright: Joakim Noah, Spencer Hawes, Acie Law, Thaddeus Young, Julian Wright, Al Thornton, Rodney Stuckey.

I think Wright can be summed up by what's not being said. Here it is, as tweeted by's David Thorpe:

My all "why are they here" team will be headed up by Darren Collison, Marcus Thornton, Reggie Williams, and Ty Lawson.

Thorpe is basically saying that these players are too far along the path of player development to be wasting their time at Summer League. Mind you, we are not talking about NBA starters here.

Guess who's missing from the list?

Based on what I've seen here in Vegas through two games in two days, Wright's deficiencies are as follows:

  1. The knock on him being injury-prone or otherwise not strong.
  2. His knuckle-ball shooting stroke.
  3. Not very high basketball IQ.


Throughout my Twitter-filled day, someone (I can't remember whom) tweeted that Wright looks stronger, albeit not ripped by any means, than last year.

Being up close here at Cox Pavilion, I can't really tell the difference, but it's probably true. You would hope that he's been hitting the weights and keeping up with the pace of the league otherwise known as "No Boys Allowed".

Every now and then, he'll still drive hard left, get stopped by a physical challenge going that way, and not get the call. Thus, he hasn't really reached the point where he needs to be ideally, as far as strength with the ball on offense.

I think his problem is his stride. When he runs, it's as if he's tip-toeing on water, and he doesn't really cover a whole lot of ground with each step. To improve that, quite simply he needs to study videotapes of football runningbacks. Lower your head, bend your knees, and get in an aerodynamic pose. Lower your center of gravity and have some force in your legs.

Knuckle-ball shooting stroke

It pains me to report that from up close, Wright's shooting stroke continues to be a disaster. However, he's not the only one. For example, I'm quite confident that, once warmed up, I can beat Rodrigue Beaubois in a (college) three-point shooting contest. Those are two of the ugliest knuckleball artists I've ever seen.

Wright's got the nice wrist-flick-end-of-release pose, but that's meaningless if the stroke itself does not produce a backspin.

I'd need to look at it really close up, like standing next to him, but here's what I think is happening. You know how you go swimming in a pool and there's that big rubber ball floating and you want to pick it up with one hand, but it's so slippery that your hand doesn't really make the grip and the ball goes squirting off over the surface of the pool? Like your hand went open-closed like the beak of a duck?

Hard to explain, but that seems to be how Wright releases the ball from his hand.

I'm also convinced that every 2 out of 3 shots that he misses, the shot does not touch the rim (airball or hits only the backboard).

Regardless, Wright needs to a hire a shot doctor. Now.

I might also venture to say that his highly flawed shooting stroke (if you can call it a stroke) is part of his shot selection disease.

Basketball IQ

If Brandan Wright has the ball up top isolated, I guarantee you the following will happen. He'll be in a triple-threat position, but his defender won't guard him closely, daring him to take the three. Wright will show ball, but then put the ball on the floor and make his move. He'll make a very strong dribble left first, at which point the defender will have no choice but to cut him off way to Wright's left. At that point either Wright has his defender beaten, or he'll spin the other direction. By this time, he'll be about 15 feet away and his length will allow him to get within 10 feet and he'll be able to do a teardrop or short jumper to finish.

Maybe it's because of his knuckleball release, but why not mix it up a little and take a smaller spin to go straight up or fade a little at the free throw line (15 feet)? Most shooting guards and small forwards have that as part of their repertoire.

Also, he needs to make up his mind more quickly. The worst example of this was when he was isolated down low against a vastly inferior player, Sean Sonderleiter, and he sized him up two or three times. Just go and make your move!

Finally, you know that commercial with Kobe Bryant looking at video tapes of his game? I just can't picture Brandan Wright like that. Well, then again I can't picture 98% of the NBA's players with that dedication, that psychological bent, to become better. But, 'nuff said.

It's not like I've totally analyzed his game from top to bottom each of the past three summers, but if I sit back in my seat, I don't see a whole lot of difference in his game over this period of time.

However, Wright is on an upward trend, albeit slow upward trend. He's more confident and a little bit stronger, but his improvement in confidence can't be from his shooting stroke.

I'd work on his shooting stroke, which will lead to confidence in hitting a pull up jumper from 15', which will increase his IQ around the basket and make him less predictable. I'd also work on the runningback form when sprinting, which will lead to more confidence and ferocious finishes on the fastbreak.

Otherwise, the ramp of growth of his progression as an athlete, as a weapon, is just too flat and he's liable to become a Draft bust. Then again, Joe Alexander was the 2008 No. 8 pick (my analysis here) and Jordan Hill was the 2009 No. 8 pick, and right now I'd still rather have Wright than either of those two.

One thing I haven't covered is Wright's defense. I'll make it a point to look out for that next game, today.

Follow me on Twitter @poormanscommish and @nbalivetweet (warning: firehose) for realtime thoughts and observations from NBA Rotation-rie League.

Here's a compendium of my tweets, aka Rotation-rie League notes, pertaining to Brandan Wright only. Scroll down past to VOTE IN THE POLL!...

Brandan Wright guarding Craig Brackins head to head.

Amazing how many bigs in the NBA don't know how to stride. Brandan Wright needs to change how he runs. Stronger, longer steps. It works.

Lucky bank shot Brandan Wright over Craig Brackings, straightaway. Looked like ball slipped off Wright's hands. Not the prettiest stroke.

You know, Anthony Randolph getting traded helps Reggie Williams and Brandan Wright here. Rather than watching AR handle ball.

Bingo. Start with something easy: power strides, please. RT @coachthorpe: Brandan Wright-we need less finesse, more power.

Why was Brandan Wright so slow on getting to that pick & roll on defense? Hope it's not a disease. We'll see.

Brandan Wright, when you're iso'd down low on a slower player (Sean Sonderleiter), please make your move asap instead of sizing him up.

Craig Brackins shooting fadaways is not helping Brandan Wright get tougher inside.

Nice to finally see Brandan Wright lower his shoulder and draw an and-one. However, it *was* on Brian Cusworth!

Quincy Pondexter gave Brandan Wright a late elbow after the call there. Words exchange. Not sure if this is from something else earlier?

Brandan Wright missed both FTs. Don't like to see that after getting punked a little by Quincy Pondexter. Make him pay with points.

Steve Silas: "B-Wright you need spacing on that (travel), cut, let the guards do that." Other asst coach tells Tillie to sub for B-Wright.

Brandan Wright receives an alley oop for a dunk next play. Dead ball. Tillie: "Get B-Wright?" GSW asst coach: "Yeah."

Honest question: Does a No. 8 pick (Brandan Wright) need this much coaching?

Horrible turnaround airball to the weakside R baseline by Brandan Wright. Next play on D someone gets a layup, asst coach: "Cmon B-Wright!"

Nice D by Brandan Wright to disrupt Darren Collison's layup. Warriors asst coach: "Make him a finisher!". B-Wright's gassed tho.

Good power move using entire length by Brandan Wright but he actually should've rolled sooner and recognized the Hornets hard show.

See Brandan Wright? When you go hard, you get rewarded. Nice spin weakside down R lane. 2 FTs. Knuckleball release: 2 swishes. GSW up 1.

Quincy Pondexter great D on Reggie Williams, forces airball which Brandan does well to retrieve and toss up prayer, no rim.

Warriors-Pistons about to tipoff. Greg Monroe vs Brandan Wright. Too bad Ekpe Udoh's left wrist is in a splint. Wouldve been grt 2c em h2h.

Is it too late to change Brandan Wright's follow through release? I've concluded it's terrible. Knuckleball.

It seems like out of every 3 missed Brandan Wright shots, 2 of them will not draw iron.

Horrible spin of the ball by Brandan Wright on that FT. Alright I'm done with that tweet-wise.

It's as if Brandan Wright hasn't watched video tape of himself to see how he always gets manhandled on dribble w/o any call. Figure it out!

It would really help Brandan Wright's game if he could just knock down an elbow FT jumper. Same spin move everytime.

Brandan Wright's at the end of the bench by himself, looks like shutting down. Still would be nice to see him in the huddle.

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