One of the more pleasant surprises from the 2010-11 campaign for the Golden State Warriors was the play of small forward Dorell Wright.
In his first season with the Dubs, the gunslinger established career highs in average minutes played, points, rebounds, assists and steals—while playing all 82 games. He led the NBA in three-point field goals (194), setting a franchise record in the process.
Despite a high volume of attempts, Wright still shot 37.6 percent from behind the arc.
Amazingly, he became the first player in league history to score more points in his seventh season than the combined total in his previous six.
Needless to say, Wright did all the right things for Golden State last season, garnering a third-place finish for the NBA’s Most Improved Player award. With cohesiveness playing another year alongside Stephen Curry and Monta Ellis, Wright looked to continue his progress in developing his all-around game.
So far, unfortunately, Wright has been left in the dark all season. In 13 games, Wright has regressed, sporting an 8.9 points-per-game average in 30.2 minutes of action each night. More alarming, however, are his shooting numbers: 37.5 percent from the field, 28.6 percent from three-point land.
This has many wondering what has gone so wrong for Wright so far this season? His performance has been particularly disturbing for head coach Mark Jackson, who has awarded more playing time to rookie wingman Klay Thompson and rotated point guard Nate Robinson off the bench for long stretches.
As a result, Wright’s numbers have sunk due in large part to fewer attempts from the field. Wright is only averaging eight field goal attempts per game, and 4.3 shots from downtown. Obviously, he’s not putting up the stats because his volume is turned down.
In fact, former Miami Heat teammate Dwyane Wade offered advice leading up to a matchup against the Warriors earlier this month, suggesting Wright simply be selfish and shoot the ball more. Sounds simple enough.
It would appear that Wright has heeded this suggestion in the past five games—averaging 14 points since the Miami game. But he’s still only taking only 10.2 shots per contest. This is slightly astonishing, considering Curry has not been in the Warriors' lineup since January 4th, nursing his sprained right ankle. It would be assumed that Wright would take on more of the scoring load, especially from the perimeter.
But that has not happened in Curry’s absence, largely due to the fact that Ellis has taken it upon himself to carry the offense. Thus, the flight of Wright’s scoring has been grounded, as Ellis has averaged just over 20 shots per game since Curry went down.
Moreover, because Jackson has made the defensive side on the ball his team’s primary focus, Golden State has slowed down its offense as a whole. Fewer possessions begets fewer fast-break opportunities begets fewer three-point shots in transition.
The Warriors are averaging 18.5 threes per game this season—a decrease from last year’s 21.3 attempts. The slower offense has seemed to affect Wright the most, who is more apt to spot up than he is to put the ball on the floor and drive (he averages only 2.0 free throws attempts per game).
The season is still young, but with a compacted schedule, Wright needs to up his game for the young Golden State squad—particularly because Curry will be out indefinitely. Hopefully, for his own sake and for the overall benefit of the Warriors, he is able to right the ship and up his offense.
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