Brandan Wright is potentially the fifth-best player on the Grizzlies. Chandler Parsons appeared in more games and played more minutes than Brandan Wright last year. So did Jarell Martin.
That’s not super encouraging, is it?
Well let’s look at the glass half full then. He is a career 61% shooter, averaging just over seven points and three rebounds a game in about 16 minutes. In other words, the dude can play. And though the Brandan Wright highlights are scarce, the few we saw were above the rim and exciting to say the least.
Of the four “power forwards” currently on the Grizzly roster, Wright has the most experience and likely to eat more minutes than he did last year. But as is a common thing with the Memphis Grizzlies, Brandan Wright’s health and overall ability to contribute is a wild card.
As previously mentioned, Brandan Wright did not see the floor much last season. He appeared in just 28 regular season games, averaging 16 minutes per game, his lowest in four seasons. Injury was an issue, and has been an issue throughout his career. But he also had veterans Marc Gasol and Zach Randolph in roster spots before him, and the emergence of JaMychal Green didn’t help his cause.
Wright was fun to watch when he was on the floor. He can move, defend, and DUNK (see highlights above)! In David Fizdale’s system, he thrived. There just weren’t that many minutes to go around in the Memphis front court.
Though the roster is overloaded with big men, 6 in total, and a few others than can play a stretch four is asked, Brandan Wright’s role will increase. He is entering his 11th NBA season and has young guns fighting for his position.
We all shouldn’t put much stock in the preseason, but Wright has looked pretty good so far. He led the team in scoring against the Philadelphia 76ers and kept his game simple. As a big man that can defend the four or five, his defense will be essential to keeping him on the floor. And in the new up-tempo offense that Fizdale is working toward, a big man that run the floor and rise up will be a nice weapon to have.
There’s no question that Wright will come off the bench. But which option off the bench he will be is still to be determined. The ball is really in the others’ court. Wright’s game is established and noted, the other young guys are the ones that have something to prove. If the others prove that they aren’t quite developed, Wright will be there to eat up the bench minutes.
Let me also say, Brandan Wright’s health will be the biggest determining factor in his contribution this season. He has yet to prove any sense of longevity in health, appearing in over 60 games in a season twice in his entire career.
2017-18 Best Case Scenario
It’s fun to think of the best case scenario for Brandan Wright. He has so much potential playing in an up-tempo offense. He is long and agile, which can keep him competitive on defense as well.
Best case scenario would be Wright playing 20 minutes a game, maintaining that 61%-ish shooting, and bumping his blocks per game up to 1.5. He isn’t known to be a great rebounder, but some of that can be chalked up to lack of minutes. Ideally he contributes more on the boards as well, bumping his rebounds up to around five per game.
In terms of his health, its just not realistic to think a Memphis Grizzly won’t suffer some sort of injury that sideline him for a couple of weeks. But best case scenario, he appears in 55-60 games this season. With other bigs to contribute, the burden won’t be solely on him; that should protect his body at least a little bit.
And lastly, I would love to see him become a leader on this team. He could be the first big off the bench with two (or three) other power forwards/centers to take under his wing. Wright is one of the older players on the roster, so his leadership could go along way for this team.
2017-18 Worst Case Scenario
It is pretty obvious to guess where this is going.
If I was a betting man, I would say this scenario is more likely than the former.
Wright has shown that injury is a possibility, almost likely. But this is a cop-out worst case scenario. So I’ll give you another one.
He could lose his job to all three other power forwards on the roster. He is competing with Ivan Rabb and Jarell Martin, both very young and very raw. But if there is more potential in the young, healthy guys, the team could kick Wright to the curb. He could be a nice piece to package in a trade, but that will all have to be determined after the two previously mentioned show their true colors.
As an aging power forward that can’t handle the ball and more importantly can’t stay healthy, its hard to see a real future for Brandan Wright. When you consider the contract he has on top of the few other cautions, a case can be made to strip the roster of the Brandan Wright baggage.
Let me first say, I don’t expect Brandan Wright to get cut. They brought him in for a reason, and the two others fighting for his position haven’t proven much. And I’ll follow that up with saying, I don’t expect Wright to average 20 minutes a game.
His production will increase barring any injury. As previously mentioned, he definitely has a role on this reinvented Grizzlies team. If he can expand his range beyond just the rim, he could be that much more valuable.
With Mike Conley only getting better, Chandler Parsons looking to be another playmaker, and ball-handlers coming off the bench, the floor will be spread like Memphis has never seen. This could leave room for the classic lob-to-Wright play that seems unstoppable when timed correctly.
It is about time Memphis fans got to enjoy consistent alley-oops, when was the last time that happened?
Finally, make sure you tell Brandan Wright happy birthday next time you see him, he turned 30 yesterday.