Brandan Wright could be a big loss for the Mavericks
While all eyes are on Rajon Rondo, the most intriguing piece that will play immediately for the Boston Celtics following the trade is Brandan Wright. Dallas may end up finding it misses him more than expected.
The biggest contract headed to the Boston Celtics as part of the Rajon Rondo trade might be less effective as part of coach Brad Stevens‘ young team. But now is the time to appreciate what Wright was with the Mavericks, and how he might be valued as a trade chip or a long-term option in Bean Town.
First, a few numbers to explain why a player averaging 8.8 points and 4.1 rebounds per game could be a valuable asset — and was for Dallas. In 18.7 minutes per game this season, Wright ranks fourth in the NBA by averaging .247 win shares per 48 minutes, behind Russell Westbrook, Anthony Davis and Stephen Curry, according to Basketball-Reference. It’s not a fluke. Wright was fifth in that statistic last year, behind Kevin Durant, Chris Paul, LeBron James and Kevin Love.
A 7’5 wingspan on a 6’11 man who can sky has most everything to do with Wright’s efficiency numbers.
For all the complicated factors that go into that stat, which tries to guess the degree to which a player contributes to a win on a per-minute basis, perhaps the biggest contributing factor is Wright’s accuracy. He leads the league by shooting 74.8 percent from the floor. At that pace, Wright could set an NBA record for shooting percentage over the course of a year, surpassing Wilt Chamberlain’s 72.7 percent from the 1972-73 season.
It helps that Wright doesn’t much other than dunk. Three-quarters of Wright’s shots this year came at the rim, and he was shooting a ridiculous 84 percent when he gets there. The other 25 percent of his shots come in the paint, usually on floaters too high for defenders to block or occasionally on short-range jumpers.
Yes, the above clip is against the woeful Pistons, but it’s still a fine example of how simple Wright makes the game for his teammates and how difficult the decision-making becomes for an opposing defense. He’s such a big target at the rim, and playing in Dallas’ offense while flanked by three-point threats like Dirk Nowitzki and Chandler Parsons made things easier. Mavericks owner Mark Cuban even told The Dallas Morning News a few weeks back that he hoped coach Rick Carlisle would draw up a few more plays for his big man.
Defensively, there is room for improvement for the slender big man, who can’t exactly bang with NBA centers. Wright holds opponents to 49.2 percent shooting at the rim, according to SportVU data, and that’s not exactly elite as a rim-protector. That said, he does block three shots per 36 minutes, ranking third in that category league-wide.
How Wright fits into a Boston frontcourt that includes Tyler Zeller, Jared Sullinger and Brandon Bass remains to be seen. He should provide a target for pick-and-rolls and seemingly would fit well playing alongside Kelly Olynyk, who like Nowitzki can space the floor, and even Jared Sullinger.
Wright’s $5 million contract expires after this season, making him a value contributor in the eyes of playoff teams hoping for a frontcourt boost. The Celtics have enough young big men to worry about, but they very well could benefit in the win column by playing the 27-year-old Wright to see where he fits, simultaneously showcasing him as a trade piece.
In any case, it’s hard to expect that Wright’s advanced statistics and his shooting percentages will remain so gaudy, but his trade value likely won’t diminish too much.
Thus, maybe the bigger wonder at a wide-angle view of the Rondo trade is how much the Mavericks end up missing their backup big man, who in their system had a very important role behind Tyson Chandler that can’t be replicated by anyone on the roster.