Print and Go Back ESPN.com: Dallas Mavericks [Print without images]

Wednesday, April 11, 2012
Fountain of Youth: Brandan Wright with point to prove

By Jeff Caplan

Our weekly look at the Mavericks' young players:

Did the Golden State Warriors give up on Brandan Wright too soon?

"You can say that or you can say they wanted to move on," the 6-foot-10 former Tar Heel said. "I feel like I'm in a good place now."

So do the Dallas Mavericks, who plucked the formerly injury-ridden Wright out of free agency in December and signed him for the bargain price of a minimum contract. His 41 games played for Dallas are already the most he ever suited up for during his 2 1/2 seasons with the Warriors. The best news for Dallas is it also controls Wright's future with a team option for next season at under $1 million.

On Thursday, Wright makes his first trip back to Golden State since he was traded on Feb. 23, 2011, to the New Jersey Nets. It won't be his first time playing the Warriors, who were leery of Wright amounting to much after the former lottery pick was shut down with a bum shoulder and missed the entire 2009-10 season.

As these things tend to work, Wright's first game with the Nets was against his old team in Jersey. He played just six minutes in the game.

Wright stands to play quite a bit more than that Thursday if current trends hold. He missed the Mavs' first trip to the Bay Area last month, having to stay behind due to a concussion. The Warriors thumped Dallas on their final night of a brutal back-to-back-to-back.

"There's not a lot of guys there when I was there, but you always look forward to playing your former team," Wright said. "I'm really looking forward to it. We owe those guys one."

Wright has logged his varying minutes at center all season and now with Lamar Odom out of the picture, he could see some time at power forward. Coach Rick Carlisle tried to give the combination of Wright and Ian Mahinmi at center a look Tuesday night, but Mahinmi's foul trouble ended that experiment prematurely.

"It'll be fine. There's just a difference between rolling and popping," Wright said of playing power forward and center. "Going against Golden State, they like to play small so I'll probably play more 5. But there will be times where I need to spell Dirk out at the 4, so it'll work out."

Averaging 6.7 points on 62.0 percent shooting -- mostly swooping and soaring two-handed dunks -- and 3.2 rebounds in 15.8 minutes, Wright has seen his minutes spike to 29.7 over the last three games, including getting 36 against burly Marc Gasol and the Grizzlies. He's averaged 12.7 points and 5.0 rebounds with five blocks in the three games.

"I feel like I can play against anybody," Wright said. "I just have to go out there and compete. That's what it's all about. "