Shawn Marion essentially served as the backup power forward during the Mavs’ championship season, and that’s a possibility again, especially if Vince Carter logs significant minutes at small forward. Brian Cardinal’s playing time could increase dramatically, but “The Custodian” has struggled mightily in limited minutes this season. You can count on the Chinese media that has hung around all season to inquire about the potential for Yi Jianlian to crack the rotation.
But the best answer might be Brandan Wright, a former lottery pick whose NBA minimum salary has been a remarkable bargain for the Mavs but has rarely played power forward this season.
Coach Rick Carlisle has been hesitant to play the high-flying, 6-foot-10, 210-pounder at power forward because Wright doesn’t have the shooting range to be a perfect fit at that position in the Mavs’ scheme. But this is far from a perfect situation, and Carlisle said Monday that he plans to use Wright at power forward.
According to 82games.com, only five percent of Wright’s minutes with the Mavs have come at power forward.
“We’ve done it in certain stretches this year,” Carlisle said. “This morning we looked at the film of those stretches. There’s some adjustment, but we’re not going to reinvent our style of play. There’s got to be a few tweaks if he plays that position and we’ll go from there.”
Wright has performed well in his few stints at power forward, his primary position until this season, averaging 24.5 points and 14.0 rebounds per 48 minutes. That’s an extremely small sample size, but those numbers compare favorably to his per-48 production at center (20.5 points, 9.7 rebounds).
Regardless of position, Wright tends to give the Mavs a spark with his athleticism and energy. He has flaws, such as his limited shooting range and lack of strength, but the Mavs never have to wonder whether he’ll play hard.
That alone makes Wright an upgrade over Odom.