Friday, January 3, 2014
Opening Tip: The Wright stuff
By Tim MacMahon
The return of Brandan Wright has provided exactly the kind of boost off the bench the Mavericks hoped and anticipated.
The Mavs are 6-2 in games played by Wright, who missed the first six weeks of the season while recovering from a nondisplaced fracture in his left shoulder. That team success is clearly not coincidental.
Wright is averaging 11.4 points on 75 percent shooting, 3.9 rebounds and 1.3 blocks in 19.7 minutes per game, numbers that are comparable to his production once he returned to the rotation on a regular basis late last season, when the springy center/forward played a key role in the Mavs closing a .500 season with a 15-8 run.
But it takes a little digging into the basketball dork numbers to get a real feel for Wright’s impact.
Wright is averaging a plus-minus of plus-5.5 and has only been a minus once this season (the blowout loss to the Phoenix Suns). His net rating (offensive points per 100 possessions minus defensive points per 100 possessions) is a team-best plus-13.8.
Wright is part of the Mavs’ most efficient five-man lineup (minimum 20 minutes). The fivesome of Vince Carter, Jae Crowder, Shane Larkin, Dirk Nowitzki and Wright has a net rating plus-41.9 in 21 minutes, outscoring opponents by a total of 21 points.
Wright is also part of the Mavs’ four most efficient two-man lineups (40-minute minimum): Larkin/Wright (plus-25.2 rating), Crowder/Wright (plus-20.8), Nowitzki/Wright (plus-19.6) and Carter/Wright (plus-19.1).
Wright also has the Mavs’ highest player efficiency rating at 27.93, which ranks fourth in the NBA. He’s played much fewer minutes than the rest of the league leaders, including 12th-ranked Nowitzki (22.91), but the high-rising Wright’s remarkably high efficiency can’t be dismissed as a fluke. He led the Mavs and ranked 20th in the league in PER at 21.03 last season.
A case could be made that these numbers are evidence that Wright should get more minutes despite rebounding numbers that are below the norm for big men. On the other hand, an argument can be made that coach Rick Carlisle should get credit for using Wright just right, maximizing his efficiency.
No matter which side of that debate you take, Wright’s impact on the Mavs is undeniable.