Where Are They Now?

Posted by Bryan Gutierrez on September 10, 2013 under Commentary | Be the First to Comment

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The free agency period is pretty much over. Scratch that. The free agency period is almost over. The Dallas Mavericks announced on Tuesday the signings of Fab Melo, D.J. Kennedy and Richard McConnell to expand the current roster to 18 players. ESPN.com’s Marc Stein was the first to report in the Mavs’ interest in Melo, the 22nd pick in the 2012 NBA draft.

With 15 players under contract but 18 on the roster, it’s important to remember that they can take up to 20 to camp. They don’t have to get down to 15 until just before the season starts. Most teams like to take 15-20 players into camp to allow veteran players a little easier of a path through the rigors of camp. An added sense of competition for the end of the roster players isn’t a bad thing, either.

There may be a few more names that pop up in the next few weeks, but the next big date is Sept. 30 (media day). That means the machine is getting ready to roll again for another new season. While there is still a little time left, I wanted to take a unique look at free agency. There are nine names on the list of remaining free agents that have direct ties to the Mavs. It’s interesting to see how they joined the Mavs and what has happened to them since they left the team.

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Passing Thoughts

Posted by Bryan Gutierrez on May 14, 2013 under Commentary | Be the First to Comment

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Needless to say, there’s a lot of free time on my hands. I like to think when I have a lot of free time. I like to think when I do not have a lot of free time. With that in mind, I’ve sat and wondered about various subjects revolving around the Mavs. I went ahead and got my fingers working on the keyboard and came up with questions and answers about the Mavs. Here are 10 of the questions and answers now. I will share the other 10 later this week.

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A Glimpse of Greatness

Posted by David Hopkins on April 9, 2013 under Commentary | Be the First to Comment

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“Know me… and know fear.” – Galactus, Devourer of Worlds

This offseason, Mark Cuban and Donnie Nelson will need to look at the current roster and evaluate which players are a priority. It’s difficult to decide if a good game represents a glimpse of greatness or a fleeting moment. In other words: should we expect more from them or are these anomalies, outliers, from subpar players? Of course, consistency would be nice, but so few of the new players this season were consistent.

To help Cuban and Nelson, I offer my rundown of “best games” from the players who had their first season in Dallas (thus, no Brandan Wright, but I already covered him last week). I also limited my list to players who had significant minutes this season (no Anthony Morrow or Jared Cunningham).

Elton Brand
Best game: December 1st vs. Detroit, Mavs win 92 to 77
Stats of note: 17 points, 12 rebounds, and 4 blocks
From the game recap, Kirk Henderson wrote: “A healthy round of applause for Elton Brand (17 points, 12 rebounds) is in order. While its exciting to see Mayo shoot well, seeing Brand hit those 10 to 15 foot jump shots was such a relief. Last season Brand shot a fantastic 45% clip from that section of the floor and was a big reason many were initially so excited to pair him with Dirk who would, in theory, open up the floor for Brand the way he has for so many others. Prior to tonight’s game though, Brand has shot an absurd 23% from that range. Tonight Brand hit three shots in that area and it forced the Detroit defense to close out on him, thus opening the floor for his five makes at the rim.” “Brand’s confidence on offense bled over into his defense; his four blocks helped keep the momentum in favor of the Mavericks. Pairing him with Bernard James (six points, 3 rebounds) was a different look for Dallas in the second quarter. It’s probably a rare sight though, both Brand and James are around 6’9″ and Carlisle was looking to steal minutes while Chris Kaman was in foul trouble.”
My thoughts: Elton Brand averages a double-double per 36 minutes, but he’s not going to get 36 minutes from the Mavericks. While he may be the most balanced (offensive and defensive) player on the Mavs—with Shawn Marion certainly in that mix—Brand isn’t going to be a high priority in the off season.

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The Difference: Dallas Mavericks 81, Los Angeles Lakers 101

Posted by Connor Huchton on April 3, 2013 under Recaps | 3 Comments to Read

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Box ScorePlay-By-Play Shot ChartGame Flow

You know the drill. The Difference is a reflection on the game that was, with one bullet for every point in the final margin.

  • The Mavericks’ season, for all playoffs-related purposes, ended on Tuesday night, and now we’re left to consider what this lukewarm, odd journey meant.
  • As a Dirk Nowitzki three-pointer failed to reach its intended destination late in the fourth quarter, I realized it would fall to me to essentially eulogize a tumultuous season of Mavericks’ basketball.
  • I thought about O.J. Mayo in the fall, Shawn Marion in the winter, and Dirk Nowitzki in the spring. I thought about the guarded hope of Brandan Wright’s line-drive hook shot, and I thought about the eager play of Bernard James. I thought about the managerial sense of Mike James, and the ever-hopeful exuberance of a Darren Collison drive. I thought about Vince Carter’s return to respect and the journey he and all of us are on, and I thought about the stoic stare of Elton Brand. I thought about all of this, and I sighed and considered all the different reasons that this sum of hope would now amount to nothing in a competitive sense. But a season is not nothing, no matter the result. It’s an emotional journey for those who (perhaps foolishly) choose to invest in its path. That path will lead longtime Mavericks’ fan somewhere unexpected this year – to a place apart from the playoffs. But disappointment does not erase the uniqueness of the journey, and another season and another path awaits in the not-so-distant future.
  • What I will write about tonight is the summation of a grimly typical occurence  - a harsh regression to realistic shooting performances, and a firm departure from the exalted three-point bubble  of glory that’s gracefully covered all of this team’s faults for the last month or so.
  • “In other words: If the jumpers stop falling, the Mavs could be in trouble.”
  • Zach Lowe wrote that sentence less than a week ago, and it’s prescience quickly came to fruition.
  • The Mavericks’ reliance on mid-range success was perhaps the most tenuous aspect of the team’s recent form, and tonight the team failed in that area entirely.
  • The only Maverick who succeeded regularly on offense was Chris Kaman (7-10 FG, 14 points, six rebounds), who turned in one of his better performances of the season.
  • Dirk has always defied defensive hopes with his dominance of the left-sided mid-range game, but that defiance counted for little against a hard-charging Lakers’ defense.
  • He shot and missed all four of his shots from 10-23 feet in that left region, and misses like these always ring loudly with foreboding for even the greatest of mid-range shooters.
  • And like so many nights this season, any hope for a defensive save collapsed after an especially rough second quarter.
  • Earl Clark (7-14 FG, 17 points, 12 rebounds, five blocks), once widely considered a draft bust and NBA failure, played a far more complete and Maverick-destructive game than anyone once would have guessed possible not long ago.
  • But it did happen, as Clark scored from any region possible and defended Dirk with all the aplomb of a young James Worthy.
  • Even more decimating was the play of one Kobe Bryant (8-18 FG, 23 points, 11 rebounds, 11 assists).
  • In the absence of Steve Nash, Bryant and the other Laker guards found Pau Gasol and Dwight Howard (10-20 FT) in the post all night, to the tune of a combined 38 points on 25 field goals (and 22 rebounds) from the pair.
  • I’d guess this kind of complete performance is what the overbearing contingency of Lakers’ fans always imagined when this team was first constructed – solid post play, tough interior defense, and a confident Kobe controlling tempo from the perimeter.
  • But such a performance couldn’t have come at a worse time for the Mavericks, who simply appeared unable to generate a significant counter to the Lakers’ play.
  • The cornerstones of these Mavericks, mid-range and three-point shooting, dissipated with the rapidity of a changing wind, and an inability to capitalize at the rim (6-12 FT) closed the door definitively on any sort of courageous final comeback.
  • I have no doubt that the Mavericks, not yet mathematically eliminated from the playoffs, will go on fighting with the heart of a battling, worn down champion, as they have all season. This team does not lack for heart – it simply lacks for well-fitting parts.
  • Along with all the pain and struggle of an uneven season, the 2012-2013 Mavericks heaved forward, one three-pointer at a time, until the proverbial well ran dry and there was nothing left to do but keep fighting against a dooming reality. Playoffs may go, but beards are forever.

Quoteboard: Dallas Mavericks 100, Chicago Bulls 98

Posted by Bryan Gutierrez on March 30, 2013 under Interviews | Read the First Comment

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Dirk Nowitzki refused to let his team lose. Dallas trailed by 12 (97-85) with less than four minutes to go in the fourth quarter, but close the game on a 15-1 run en route to a 100-98 win over the Chicago Bulls. The 12-point comeback is biggest deficit overcome in a win when trailing with less than 4:00 to play in NBA this season. Dirk sealed the deal for the Mavericks as he hit a game-winning 3-pointer with 2.9 seconds left. He was untouchable in the fourth quarter as he went 6-of-7 from the field and 3-of-4 from 3-point range for 15 points in the fourth quarter. Dirk scored 15 of the teams 25 points. In the end, Dirk tallied a season-high (game-high) 35 points to go along with seven rebounds in 34 minutes against Chicago.

Brandan Wright recorded his first double-double of the season (fourth career) with 17 points and a career-high-tying 13 rebounds in 23 minutes off the bench against Chicago. It was his first double-double since April. 1, 2011 at Philadelphia (15 points and 11 rebounds while with New Jersey).

An MRI revealed that Mavericks shooting guard O.J. Mayo has a mild sprain of the AC joint in his left shoulder. He played in the game and logged just under 42 minutes of action. Mayo went 1-of-13 from the floor. It was evident he was struggling with his shoulder as he missed his first two shots of the day, two left-handed layups. Through the pain, Mayo grinded out the game and provided an all-around effort that made up for his poor shooting performance.

For the Bulls, Nate Robinson went a perfect 7-of-7 from beyond the arc en route to a team-high-tying 25 points for Chicago. He scored Chicago’s first 11 points of the fourth quarter and finished with 15 points in the fourth. He added six assists in 32 minutes off the bench. Carlos Boozer (25 points and 11 rebounds) and Luol Deng (25 points and seven rebounds) combined for 50 points and 18 rebounds.

Really though, this is about Dirk Nowitzki.

Some notes before the quotes:

- Including the postseason, the game against the Bulls marked the 12th time in his career that Dirk made a game-winning basket in the final 10 seconds of a game (and the first since Mar. 30, 2012 at Orlando). Nowitzki, who had 33 points vs. the L.A. Clippers on 3/26, scored 30-plus points for the second time in his last three games (third time this season). He is averaging 29.7 points on 62.1 percent shooting (.455 3FG) over his last three games.

- Dirk during the homestand: 61.5 percent from the field, 44.4 percent from 3, 90 percent from the line. 24.0 points and 7.0 in six games for Dirk.

- Nowitzki went a perfect 8-for-8 from the field (2-for-2 from deep) and 2-for-2 from the line in the first half against Chicago. He led all players with 20 points in 17 first-half minutes. It was the most points he’s scored in any half this season (previous: 17 in first half at Milwaukee Mar. 12). Nowitzki scored 20-plus points in the first half for the first time since Mar. 13, 2012 vs. Washington (20 points). It was the most points he’s scored in any half since Apr. 18, 2012 vs. Houston (31 points).

- By shooting 14-of-17 from the field and shooting 82.4 percent from the field, Dallas has now gone 13-2 in games where Dirk shoots at least 80 percent from the field (min. 10 field goal attempts). Dallas had lost their previous two games under those circumstances.

- Nowitzki, who had 20 points in the first half against Chicago on Saturday, scored 20-plus points for the seventh time in his last 10 games (16th time this season). Nowitzki is averaging 22.0 points on 57.1 percent shooting over his last 11 games.

Here is the quoteboard for Dallas’ heroic win over Chicago. Meet everyone at the altar of Dirk.

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The Difference: Dallas Mavericks 78, Indiana Pacers 103

Posted by Connor Huchton on March 29, 2013 under Recaps | Be the First to Comment

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Box ScorePlay-By-Play – Shot ChartGame Flow

You know the drill. The Difference is a reflection on the game that was, with one bullet for every point in the final margin.

  • The coalescence of poor fortune dawns swiftly and without warning in the world of regression to the mean and jumper reliance, and the Mavericks faced down that unfortunate coalescence in unending quantity on Thursday night.
  • Offensive success never neared commonality over the course of a close, slow-paced second half, but things swiftly took an awful turn for the irritating in the third quarter, when the offense of Dallas achieved impressive stagnancy.
  • The acceptable, if not well taken, looks which led the Mavericks to a 41-point first half dissipated instantly in the first few minutes of the third quarter as the Pacers paced out to a double-digit lead.
  • Why and how are the question words which spring to mind, and part of the answer lies in a second-half opening lineup which just didn’t work against a stalwart Indiana defense.
  • That lineup included Chris Kaman (0-1 FG, four minutes, -11) and Mike James (0-4 FG, four assists, 20 minutes, -22), each of whom appeared equal parts listless in their respective outings.
  • Kaman, appearing in the game for the first time, couldn’t defend Hibbert and couldn’t find an inkling of offensive rhythm.
  • James, who played less than usual in the first half, struggled to find space in the swiftly shifting Indiana defense and rarely escaped the perimeter.
  • The lineup struggled along with them and failed to find Dirk Nowitzki (10-20 FG, 21 points, seven rebounds) early in possessions, and soon the Pacers were on their way to a 17-point lead and firm dominance.
  • It’s a worth noting how poorly the Mavericks’ style matches that of the strongly defensive Pacers.
  • The Pacers simply have to much capability in the realm of size and post presence for the Mavericks to outwit.
  • The Mavericks have no answer for the Roy Hibberts (5-10 FG, 16 points, 11 rebounds) and even the Tyler Hansbroughs of the basketball world – those who are weighty rebounders and energetic post defenders.
  • Dallas relied on mid-range jumpers to save their hopes because of the Pacers’ prevalent defensive size, and failed for the most part in that region.
  • And on the other end, Paul George (10-17 FG, 24 points, eight rebounds, six assists) scored at will.
  • In this I felt the Mavericks were less at fault. George is a great, versatile player, and he made many thoroughly tough looks.
  • The Mavericks may have been better served to place Shawn Marion (4-7 FG, eight points, four rebounds) on George instead of Vince Carter (5-13 FG, 14 points) and company, but tonight felt like a night when there was little the Mavericks could have done to hinder George, no matter who acted as his defensive foil.
  • No Maverick made more than half their field goals, and Dirk’s 10 of 20 makes was the only output in that realm.
  • Ian Mahinmi (4-8 FG, nine points, seven rebounds) played fairly well in his return to Dallas.
  • His return offered a reminder that his presence would be very welcome on a team that lacks for size and reliable defensive centers.
  • The Mavericks did a pretty poor job of finding ways to get three-point shooters open throughout Thursday’s game.
  • Dallas made four of 14 three-point attempts, and few of those attempts could or should be classified as ‘clean looks’ .
  • When Anthony Morrow (2-4 FG, 0-1 3PT, four points, 11 minutes) entered the game, I had some hope that he’d be use to run off screens and take threes, the skill that’s defined his entire career.
  • Instead, the offense continued its jumbled ways and Morrow looked lost within the team’s movement.
  • The Mavericks’ playoff chances decreased considerably with this loss, but with the aid of the Bucks’ victory against the Lakers, some hope remains.
  • It seems somewhat trite to describe Saturday’s game against the Bulls as a ‘must-win’, as such a description will be used for pretty much every remaining Dallas’ game, but with the Jazz holding the tiebreaker between the two teams, every game lost counts considerably.
  • I’ll let Dirk finish this recap, poignantly.

The Zach Attack, Part One

Posted by Bryan Gutierrez on March 25, 2013 under Commentary, Interviews | 3 Comments to Read

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It’s not every day you get to chat with, in my opinion, one of the best writers in basketball. I had the privilege to talk to Grantland’s Zach Lowe over the weekend to go over key subjects that revolve around the Mavericks. His exclusive, inside look at how SportVU is changing basketball is can’t-miss stuff. With his vast knowledge of the league, including the nuances of the salary cap and the CBA, Lowe’s insight on what is going on in Dallas is definitely worth reading. Unfortunately, we didn’t have much time to get into the twisted fascination he has with NBA mascots. At least we have something saved up for hopefully another conversation with the talented writer.

With all of the things we were able to discuss, we’re able to break this into two parts that will be easy to digest and absorb. In part one, we discussed the recent disappearing act of Dirk Nowitzki’s shot attempts, Rick Carlisle’s coaching and the situation that has hampered the Mavericks all season long. The conversation covers pretty much the nuts and bolts for Dallas. Let’s dig in.

Here is an edited transcript of our conversation.

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The Difference: Dallas Mavericks 113, Utah Jazz 108

Posted by Connor Huchton on under Recaps | Be the First to Comment

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Box ScorePlay-By-PlayShot ChartGame Flow

You know the drill. The Difference is a reflection on the game that was, with one bullet for every point in the final margin.

  • Despite the relentless turmoil and mediocrity that preceded the break, the post All-Star Mavericks inspire belief. They contain a transcendent star, several valuable wing players, and an eccentric (but effective enough) center rotation. They’ve won 11 of 18 games against a somewhat difficult schedule, and rarely seemed daunted by their opponent – notwithstanding an awful blowout loss to Houston on March 3rd, every game has been at least competitive. The current Dallas’ squad does not necessarily proclaim greatness, but it does provide an undeniably strong case as being quite good. With a win tonight against the faltering Jazz, it’s becoming increasingly possible to believe in a Mavericks’ playoff berth, and whatever unlikely glory might come with it.
  • Tonight’s bizarre/typical iteration of ,”Who is the most effective Mavericks’ center?”, is a prime example of the simultaneous versatility and uncertainty the Mavericks face at the position on a game-by-game basis. Brandan Wright (3-11 FG, seven points, four points), the team’s best center of late, struggled as the contest began and progressed, and so Elton Brand (5-5 FG, 10 points, five rebounds) returned to the rotation after a game-long absence and provided a much needed offensive and defensive spark. Chris Kaman (2-3 FG, four points) made a curt, eight-minute appearance that brimmed with moderate effectiveness. Tonight, Elton Brand was the Mavericks’ best ‘center’ (an arbitrary term typically used to describe any Mavs’ frontcourt player not named Dirk Nowitzki), but next game, that title could easily shift.
  • I’ve really enjoyed the way O.J. Mayo (4-7 FG, 2-3 3PT, 10 points) has adjusted his game upon Dirk’s (7-13 FG, 2-4 3PT, 17 points, six rebounds) return to offensive dominance. Since the All-Star break, Mayo is attempting about three field goal attempts less per game (and averaging one less turnover per game), and it’s helped aid a slight return to form for him. Mayo’s still scoring about 10-15 points nearly every night at a reduced usage, but he’s doing so as a secondary, efficient option in flux within the ebbs and flows of Dirk’s nightly performances. When the Mavericks need Mayo to score and deliver, he’s done so, but he’s also managed to adjust and recede his game in a renewed, potent offense.
  • Despite the misleading allowance of 108 points, this was one of the better defensive games of the 2012-2013 Mavericks’ recent history. The Jazz scored 28 points in the final 5:26 after the game had reached a seemingly finished stage, but before that mental (and almost costly) lapse, the Mavericks had limited the Jazz’s interior presence nicely. The Jazz starting frontcourt typically scores willfully and appears at first glance to pose a significant matchup problem for the Mavericks’ nebulous range of post defenders, but Brand and company did a very good job of limiting Jefferson and Millsap to a quiet total of 30 combined points.
  • I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention the stellar night of somewhat maligned veteran guard Mike James (7-10 FG, 3-4 3PT, 19 points, five assists). On his best nights, James is a dangerous spot-up three-point shooter and a capable distributor, and tonight was surely one of those nights. As a parting note, I believe this is the highest I’ve ever seen Chris Kaman jump, and thus, Marvin Williams (1-6, 2 points) fittingly missed his dunk.

Quoteboard: Dallas Mavericks 113, Utah Jazz 108

Posted by Bryan Gutierrez on under Interviews | Read the First Comment

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With a 113, 108 victory over the Utah Jazz, the Dallas Mavericks moved to two games below .500 for the first time since Dec. 20. The victory now has Dallas is now tied with Utah for 9th in the west, two games back of LA for the 8th spot in the West with 12 games to go. Mike James tallied a season-high (game-high) 19 points to go along with three rebounds and a team-high-tying five assists in 32 minutes against the Jazz on Sunday (previous high: 14 points vs. Oklahoma City Mar. 17). It was his highest scoring game since Feb. 20, 2009 at New Jersey (19 points), as a member of the Washington Wizards. He scored in double figures for the seventh time in his last 12 games (ninth time this season). James is averaging 12.2 points and 5.0 assists over his last five games. By going 3-of-4 from 3-point range, James has shot 54.2 percent (13-of-24) from deep over his last five contests. He has made at least one 3-pointer in each of his last 13 games and is shooting 48.3 percent (29-of-60) from beyond the arc in that span.

Dirk Nowitzki led Dallas with 11 points and five rebounds in the opening half. He finished with 17 points and six rebounds on the night. He did all of his damage in just over 26 minutes of action. He rested the entire fourth quarter.

Some notes before the quotes:

- The Mavericks had seven players in double figures in the victory over the Jazz on Sunday: Mike James (19), Dirk Nowitzki (17), Shawn Marion (15), Vince Carter (15), Darren Collison (13), O.J. Mayo (10) and Elton Brand (10). It marked the fourth time this season that Dallas had seven players in double digits (also Dec. 12 at Boston, Jan. 20 at Orlando and Mar. 8 at Detroit). The Mavericks did not have one game with seven players in double digits all of last season.

- After a scheduled game off, Elton Brand went a perfect 5-for-5 from the field and managed 10 points, five rebounds and two blocks in 18 minutes. He scored all 10 of his points in the first half. Brand’s second block at the 4:32 mark of the fourth quarter was the 1,700th block of his career. He became the 24th player in NBA history with at least 1,700 rejections.

- Dallas shot 54.3 percent (38-of-70) from the field in the win over the Jazz on Sunday. The Mavericks improved to 17-3 this season when they shoot at least 50 percent from the floor.

Here is the quoteboard for Dallas’ much-needed victory over Utah.

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Thermodynamics: Week 21

Posted by Travis Wimberly on March 21, 2013 under Commentary, Recaps | Be the First to Comment

Ice Melting
Thermodynamics (n.) – the science concerned with the relations between heat and mechanical energy

You wouldn’t know it from the game results (L, W, L, W, L), but the Mavs played at a fairly consistent level for the entire week (at least until the fourth quarter of the final game against Brooklyn). After being wildly inconsistent for most the season, the Mavs seem to have finally leveled out and settled into a groove.

So, if the Mavs were so consistent, why 2-3? Why alternating wins and losses? Well, that’s just the thing — the Mavs’ “consistent” level of play sits pretty much right in the middle of the league. Their season-long ceiling (as opposed to their single-game ceiling, which is largely a function of variance) sits right around the 50th percentile. By playing consistently over several games, then, the Mavs make it very easy to see exactly where they sit in the league pecking order. They’ll beat bad teams regularly (Cleveland); they’ll beat decent teams sometimes (Atlanta); they’ll lose to decent teams sometimes (Brooklyn); and they’ll lose to elite teams almost always (San Antonio and Oklahoma City).

Hence, the week that was.

Week 21 (@Spurs, Cavs, Thunder, @Hawks, Nets)

FIRE

1) Brandan Wright

Wright’s offensive game is so fluid and efficient, it’s hard to imagine that he could barely get off the bench earlier in the year. Here’s how Wright’s key numbers shook out this week: 10.4 points per game, 24-of-43 (56%) shooting, 6.2 rebounds per game, and 1.0 blocks per game. It’s much more difficult to quantatively measure individual defense, but I thought Wright showed his continued improvement in that area. He’s got a long way to go, but his footwork in the defensive post has improved since November, and he’s being more judicious with his weakside defense (i.e., not wildly jumping around trying to block every single shot instead of boxing out). Wright earned numerous accolades during college while playing in the highly competitive ACC, and it’s easy to see why. His raw talent is undeniable. With hard work and on-point coaching (and I have no reason to suspect both won’t occur), his ceiling is fairly high.

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