The Raptors are home to face the Bulls tonight in their second-last preseason tuneup before the regular season starts Oct. 27 against the Knicks. Today, we take a look at Julian Wright, who came to Toronto in a deal for Marco Belinelli over the summer:
Last February, while a member of the New Orleans Hornets, Julian Wright took to his Twitter account and mentioned how “might need a change of scenery” and that he was jealous of players that got a chance to move at the deadline. In August, Wright got his wish and was sent to Toronto for shot-happy guard Marco Belinelli. Now it’s time for him to prove New Orleans was the problem, and not him.
Wright, a 6’8″ forward that can bounce between the three and four positions but hasn’t proven exceptional at either in three years in the league, was scooped up 13th overall by the Hornets in 2007, which also happened to be the year he helped lead the Kansas Jayhawks to the NCAA title. Since then, he’s averaged no more than 4.4 points and no less than 3.8, which is what he put up last season in 12.8 minutes per game. Playing time has been at a premium for Wright, but a lot of that has to do with him not earning it thus far in his NBA career.
What Wright does bring to the table is a long, athletic body — one that could potentially fit in with some of the similar types the Raptors have in DeMar DeRozan, Sonny Weems and Amir Johnson. If he accepts his role early and works to expand it over the course of the season, he could develop the same way Weems did after coming over with little fanfare from Milwaukee in 2009. So far, that impact hasn’t exactly been much in preseason play — in four games, Wright has seen the floor for 35 minutes and chipped in 10 points and five rebounds. I didn’t attend training camp, but have to figure his playing time has something to do with what he put out there. Whatever the reason, it’s clear Wright’s work is cut out for him.
Small forwards don’t get into the NBA without a skill set, which means there has to be something there for Wright, especially considering the noise he made at Kansas that earned him his spot in the 2007 lottery. Though he’s athletic, Wright hasn’t offered much in the way of an outside game in his three years in the league, which makes it pretty easy for defenses to tighten up on him and keep him away from the basket. In 179 games, he’s made just 14 threes at a rate of 27.5%, a mark that’s still considerably less embarrassing than his 61.0% career mark from the free throw line. That said, it’s pretty obvious where Wright’s game needs work.
2009-10 with New Orleans: 68 games (14 starts), 50.0% from the field, 33.0% (2-of-6) from deep and 61.0% from the free throw line, 3.8 points, 2.1 rebounds, 0.6 assists, 0.43 steals and 0.26 blocks per game.
What to expect: You probably by now have the idea I don’t have high expectations for Wright. Like I said, the opportunity is there for him to have an impact, but he didn’t exactly jump at that same opportunity in New Orleans and hasn’t done so this month with Toronto. Though I hope for more, I’m expecting numbers similar to the ones he put up with the Hornets, if not worse.