Dallas Mavericks: Could Brandan Wright Be This Year's Tyson Chandler?
Blocked shots, rebounds, thunderous dunks and energy on both sides of the floor: Things that have been replayed on every Dallas Mavericks highlight film this year on more than one occasion.
And the weird thing is, we're not talking about Tyson Chandler.
For short stints early in the year, Brandan Wright didn't see the floor that much. He was pretty much placed at the end of the bench as the third-string power forward behind Dirk Nowitzki and sometimes Lamar Odom.
Now that Odom is sitting at home and getting paid for the rest of the year to do absolutely nothing, head coach Rick Carlisle has given the former No. 8 overall pick a chance to show why he was so coveted when he came out of North Carolina five years ago.
In the last three Dallas wins with Odom off the team, albeit against two mediocre teams in Sacramento and Golden State and a Portland team that's without LaMarcus Aldridge, Wright has taken his extended minutes and has made the most out of them, averaging almost 13 points, seven rebounds and over two blocks. He also scored 16 points in a loss to the Memphis Grizzlies last week, Odom's final game after playing only four minutes.
It's no doubt that Wright has made an impact that hasn't gone unnoticed by the public eye. Analysts and commentators have raved over Wright's play over the last week as he's now becoming a key player to look out for in opposing scouting reports.
It's also fair to say that his play and the stats that he's put up are resembling that of one Tyson Chandler, who was perhaps the biggest reason why Dallas won the NBA title last season.
Now let me clarify: This is in no way to say that Wright will be the reason that the Mavs get back to the NBA Finals. It would be insurmountable amount of pressure to put on a guy who hasn't even reached his full potential yet at the age of 24.
But Wright's play coming down the late stretch has certainly given thought to the masses that the Mavs could finally string some things together and make a run in the playoffs.
First off, Wright's putting these numbers up while coming off the bench. A guy who's averaged over 13 points and six rebounds a game in the month of April so far is not in the starting rotation. That's a showcase of how much he's improved since he's come into the league.
Another thing to note is that Wright's offensive low-post game is much more finesse and better than Chandler's, who has always been viewed as someone to catch alley-oops and send shots into the third row. Wright does all of that just as much, but he's developed a nice 10-foot jumper outside the paint, and also has an effective turn-around hook shot.
The story between Chandler and Wright is also similar, if you think about it. Chandler came to Dallas last year in a trade for Erick Dampier's absurd contract as an injury-prone center who wasn't the man he used to be. People called him a shell of his former self when he was traded from the New Orleans Hornets and away from Chris Paul. The rest, as they say, is history.
Wright has battled plenty of injuries over the course of his early NBA career and has come to Dallas looking for a fresh start. He signed a one-year contract in December and, just like the training staff did with Chandler, they've kept Wright healthy.
The only difference between the two is that Wright isn't starting, but that's what could make him extremely effective come playoff time. If Carlisle gives him his usual minutes that he's getting now, and if he can stay healthy, then there adds an extra dimension to the Mavs' game plan that many believed wouldn't be there when Chandler left.
It does seem like it's too late to put this claim on Wright, but his play has been stupendous this month and he's become productive at the best time. And it's truly great to see him get this opportunity and make the most out of it.
A word of advice to Mark Cuban and Donnie Nelson: If you're looking for someone on the current roster a few more years and a more prominent role, make that person Wright.
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