Brandan Wright came into Memphis on a 3-year deal, but his presence on the team has been minimal. He’s got one year left on his contract, and he’d better make an impact, or he could be used as a potential trade piece for the Memphis Grizzlies.
Coming in, there was a lot of positive response to Wright’s deal. He was an athletic backup center and power forward that would take some of the minute load off of All-Star center Marc Gasol, who definitely isn’t getting any younger. And the price, essentially the old mid-level exception (average of $5.7 million per year), was more than right.
Well, that plan fell through as Brandan Wright battled with knee injuries all through his first season with Memphis. While fans speculated how bad the center was injured, rumors swirled, and Wright sat on the bench. So, the 2015-16 season was pretty much a wash for the big guy. Surely his second season he’d be healthy, right?
Unfortunately, Wright battled injuries again during the first half of the 2016-17 season, and he faded into the background in fans’ minds as a “what could have been” player. However, he reappeared on the scene toward the end of the season and had some decent performances in limited minutes of play. When Marc Gasol was on the sidelines, Wright was really able to step in and make an impact.
Despite this, he was nearly nonexistent during the postseason and played a total of 12 minutes in the 6 games of the series.
So, this leaves spectators wondering what Wright’s role will be this upcoming season or if the big man is on his way out of the Bluff City.
If he’s healthy, the Memphis Grizzlies should keep Wright. With the Grizzlies moving on from the slow, grinding style of play, Wright fits right into Fizdale’s desired system with his athleticism and length. He has a 7’4” wingspan, and at a 6’10” height, he provides size in the paint. We’ve seen Wright’s athleticism on display in his flashes with the Grizzlies so far:
It’s just that we haven’t been able to see enough of this kind of performance with him sitting on the sidelines for most of his career in Memphis.
Another thing is that he provides extra insurance for Marc Gasol. If Gasol goes down with injury or needs a rest during the last stretch of the season before the playoffs, Wright provides a great backup that’ll keep the Grizzlies afloat in the paint.
So, although his role was limited this past season, his presence still made a positive impact. Last year when Wright was on the court, the Grizzlies had an offensive rating of 106.1 and a defensive rating of 102.3. With him off the court, the team had an offensive rating of 104.5 and a defensive rating of 104.8.
Now, the first few months of this season will be crucial for Wright. His role minutes-wise will be limited, so he’ll need to make an obvious impact to stick around. Otherwise, he would be a great piece for a potential trade for Memphis...but it could be difficult to move him since he has a 15% trade kicker in his contract, according to sportrac.com.
Wright’s best year of his career was the 2012-13 season with the Dallas Mavericks, during which he averaged 8.5 PPG (while shooting 59.7% from the field), 4.1 rebounds, and 1.2 blocks in just 18 minutes per game. It would be wise to not expect quite that level of production from Wright at this point, but it’s not unfair to expect Wright to average 7 points a game by dunking the ball and picking up second-chance points. His numbers were so efficient that year in part because most of his shots took place in the paint. And, the Grizzlies don’t need him out there shooting three pointers. Wright offers a solid piece to this altered Grizzlies squad, but he has to prove that he belongs here.
While it was immediately assumed when Wright got here that he’d break into the rotation easily, that is much more uncertain now. The Grizzlies could choose to roll out the young Deyonta Davis instead, who has shown flashes of potential as well.
It’s up to Brandan Wright to show his value in Memphis or not. He has to make the most of the minutes he’s given, and with the absence of Zach Randolph, surely he’ll be given chances to crack the rotation. However, after his lack of play in the postseason, clearly Fizdale isn’t afraid to put Wright on the sidelines if he doesn’t perform.
Only time will tell if Brandan Wright’s contract was a wash or if he finally proves his worth this season and finally finds his fit in Memphis.