Everybody knows what Brandan Wright brings to the table, individually. He is a an excellent PnR player due to his leaping ability and his pinpoint floater. He is also a great team defender and shot-blocker, due to agility coupled with that leaping ability. With only 8 games on his resume for this season, it is difficult to quantify his production on a game to game basis.
So I’ve decided to take a look at Brandan Wright through the purview of every 100 possessions (the average amount of possessions in a game this season is 100.4) that he is on the floor; however, I will not just look at his production, but also the overall effect it has on the team as well.
Keep in mind that Brandan Wright has only appeared in 8 games this season. However, Memphis is 6-2 in those games, with the loss coming against the NBA Finals favorites, the Golden State Warriors and a lackluster effort against the New Orleans Pelicans in the game before the All-Star Break.
Coincidence? Probably, with everybody playing so well. But I say not! Here’s why:
Brandan Wright is averaging 24.5 points on 57% shooting to go along with 4.5 offensive rebounds, 9 rebounds overall, and 2.7 blocks per 100 possessions this season. That would be good enough for 4th on the team in scoring behind the Big 3 of Gasol, Conley, and Randolph. Brandan Wright will be no more to this team than a back-up center, but this simply paints a picture of how effective he is when on the floor.
As mentioned previously, a big part of Brandan Wright’s scoring output is reliant upon the Pick n’ Roll, which he excels in. A whopping 88.0% of his made two-point field goal attempts are assisted on, which is good for 3rd in the entire NBA among players averaging 13.5 minutes or more per game. What makes this such an asset is obviously his leaping ability, but he does not receive much credit for how quick and agile he is.
Trevor Booker got his calling in this league as a high-intensity defender and rebounder. Look at Brandan Wright abuse him on this slip. By the time Trevor Booker reacts, Brandan Wright is already catching the ball in space. Great body control as well to avoid the charge into Scola.
On this play Chandler Parsons actually holds things up a bit. Look at how fast Brandan Wright gets those hips turned after the screen. Parsons probably could have tossed it up a dribble earlier, but that’s the luxury of Brandan Wright, ladies and gents. He still has the bounce to go up and get it from a near stand-still.
More Trevor Booker abuse. I’m sorry, I just couldn’t resist. I mean, he practically looks like a guard on this move. There are not a lot of guys in the NBA this tall, quick, and bouncy. There’s just not and we have one right here in Beale Street Blue.
The Brandan Wright Effect
We’ve had a look at Brandan Wright and some of the things he brings to the table, individually. However, the more important discussion to be had, is what he brings to the group as a whole. Defensively, he is his same dynamic self in the pick and roll. His length allows him to contain and recover with exceptional effectiveness. As for offensively, this may surprise you, but the answer is three-point shooting! Before you click somewhere else, let me explain! I determined that the best way to assess Brandan Wright in terms of the effect he has on the totality of the game itself, was through On/Off-court numbers. This is used to simply look at the changes in a team’s play when a player is playing or sitting.
First, Brandan Wright’s effect on the game defensively. When Brandan Wright is on the court, the Grizzlies hold teams to a 45.4 effective field goal percentage, 2nd on the team behind Deyonta Davis, and they also average 8.5 blocks per 100 possessions, which is good for 1st on the team. Wright also gives the Grizzlies their 4th best defensive rating when on the court, behind Martin, Davis...and dare I say it, Troy Daniels. What makes Wright so effective, you ask? Pick ‘n Rolls are a staple in the NBA. They are used to create mismatches, initiate ball and player movement, and create good looks in general. In today’s “Pace and Space” NBA, with big men being more perimeter-enabled, it is crucial to be able to defend the PnR. Wright uses the same tools in his PnR repertoire on offense to make an impact on defense.
Ricky Rubio is one of the most creative, precise passers in the NBA without a doubt. Brandan Wright is able to contain the drive using his foot speed, along with the baseline, and his length allows him to get a hand on the pass back to the roll man.
Klay Thompson and Draymond Green PnR’s can be deadly. Thompson is automatic from mid-range and a solid straight-line driver. Draymond is quick on his feet and can explode with a running start. Wright is able to contain the drive from Klay, while staying close enough to contest the pull-up jumper and then recover back to Draymond to get the block on the dunk.
On the offensive end, Brandan Wright brings more and better three-point shooting to the Grizzlies. Absurd, you say? Nope. Granted, Wright is not the one actually shooting the threes, but he is the one providing the spacing for his teammates that do. “But how can he provide spacing if he can’t shoot?” Vertically. When most people think of “spacing”, they think of players who stand behind the three-point line and demand attention which leads to less help on drives. Brandan Wright demands that same attention except on cuts and rolls to the rim because of his leaping ability which sinks defenders in.
When Brandan Wright is on the floor, the Grizzlies attempt nearly 3 more threes per 100 possessions than they do as a team on average, which is good for 2nd on the team behind Troy “Let it fly” Daniels. During these same minutes with Wright, they’re 3-point shooting jumps to 41% from a team average of 36% (This is sans an abysmal 3-point shooting night against the Pelicans on Wednesday).
This is an example of the vertical spacing that Brandan Wright brings. Vince Carter could not ask for a better look and it’s all because Wright had been killing BKN on lobs to the rim all night.
More of the same. Troy Daniels doesn’t connect, but a good look nonetheless. JaMychal Green gets credit for the offensive rebound, but it’s Wright that scares Joel Anthony into a switch, mid-shot; and Bertans can’t locate JMyke fast enough to get a body on him.
All in all, Brandan Wright is an excellent player in his own right as well as an ancillary piece to not just the Grizzlies, but any team. His PnR offense and defense are excellent traits and a plus to a Grizzlies team who was already doing well without it. His presence in the paint finally gives Memphis some rim protection that has been void since Kosta Koufus left for more money and better weather. He also provides much needed spacing to a Grizzlies team who is attempting the most threes per game in franchise history this year.
Some people wish to trade him because of his injury history, but to me, that just diminishes the return you will get. A healthy Brandan Wright is likely a greater asset than anything a trade would bring in and that is why I say the Grizzlies keep Wright on board through the rest of this season and into the playoffs.