If you had Dorell Wright pegged as a 20-point scorer or the league leader in three-pointers made a week into the season, I’d politely ask that you step toward the stake surrounded by kindling. We don’t take kindly to witches and soothsayers around here.
In retrospect, though, it makes complete sense. Maybe not Wright’s .545 mark from long range, that’s just surreal. But with the power of hindsight, we can see that Wright was already a competent three-point marksman last season (.389 on 157 attempts), and that with the handy offensive benefits that the Golden State Warriors provide, a boost in production like this should have been expected.
Last season, Wright played for the Miami Heat, who ranked 19th in offensive efficiency and 28th in pace. Miami made the playoffs on the strength of their defense and their Dwyane Wade-ness, with each offensive possession merely a phase in their slow-motion grind through 48 minutes. Wade had to create entirely too much of Miami’s offense in the half-court, and thanks to the lack of second-tier offensive talent to ease the burden, the Heat’s game plan was too easily derailed. Wright can clearly succeed as an offensive contributor, but only if he’s not asked to actually run the show. He inhabits the all too familiar space between role player and quasi-star; he can hit shots but struggles in creating them, and he can produce like a star without actually becoming one. Wright may be growing as a player — he certainly looks more fluid this season than ever before — but don’t let his remarkable per-gam production thus far fool you. He’s taking steps, but hasn’t made any leaps.
This season’s Warriors play a full 10 possessions per game faster than last season’s Heat, which means that Wright has gone from the third slowest team in the league to the third fastest. Stylistically, that suits him, but it also generates more possessions for Wright and his teammates to use. Additionally, we’ve seen Wright’s minutes almost double, his usage rate bumped, and his field goal attempts increase from 10.1 to 14.2 per 36 minutes. Compound all of that with the ability to play off of Monta Ellis, David Lee, and Stephen Curry, and it’s odd that Wright’s “breakout” wasn’t more predictable. Perhaps Keith Smart’s willingness to employ a fast-breaking style similar to his predecessor was underestimated. But for those who assumed that the Warriors would more or less stay the Warriors, Wright’s production is merely in line with what we should have expected of him in an increased role on a faster team.
The Hornets are plenty deep at center with Cody Zeller, Roy Hibbert, Spencer Hawes and Frank Kaminsky.
Just in case…
Charlotte Hornets General Manager Rich Cho announced today that the team has signed center Mike Tobey.
Tobey went undrafted after four seasons at Virginia then played well for the Hornets’ summer-league team. He’s a good offensive rebounder, and he has some touch with the ball. But his lack of length and athleticism really limit him.
There’s an outside chance Tobey competes with Aaron Harrison, whose salary is unguaranteed, for Charlotte’s final regular-season roster spot. Tobey’s standing and the Hornets’ center depth will work against him.
Most likely, this is just a way for Charlotte to stock its new D-League affiliate, the Greensboro Swarm. The Hornets can waive Tobey after training camp and assign his D-League rights to the Swarm. A partial guarantee on his NBA contract would probably entice him to join the D-League rather than play overseas.
Glen Rice Jr. — the No. 35 pick in the 2013 NBA draft — continues his fall.
He spent a couple years with the Wizards, got waived and then was shot and arrested in a single incident.
Now, he faces more charges.
the 25-year-old was arrested for robbery Monday morning in Georgia … less than a year after he was shot in a bizarre gunfight at T.I.’s restaurant.
Here’s what we know … Rice was booked at 6:37 AM this morning for felony robbery, aggravated battery and possession of marijuana. He has since been released from custody.
You thought it was crazy two teams — the Nets with an offer sheet and the Heat matching it — valued Tyler Johnson at $50 million over the next four years?
Check out his reaction.
Manny Navarro of the Miami Herald:
That’s a lot of money for anyone, especially someone who went undrafted just two years ago. But Johnson worked his way up from the D-League and impressed with his athleticism, feel for the game and outside shot.
There’s a school of thought that sometimes players are better off as restricted, rather than unrestricted, free agents. That was probably true for Johnson, whose status led to Brooklyn going over the top on an offer. Add a skyrocketing salary cap, Johnson was in the right place at the right time.
Accompanying their signing of Chris Andersen, the Cavaliers paid Philadelphia to take Sasha Kaun. Cleveland, facing a steep luxury tax, didn’t want to pay both big men. It was cheaper to send the 76ers cash and have them waive Kaun rather than the Cavs doing it themselves.
But perhaps the Cavaliers could’ve just waited out Kaun.
Gary Bedore of the Lawrence Journal-World:
Sasha Kaun, one of only two Kansas University basketball players, along with Hall of Famer Clyde Lovellette, to win an NCAA title (2008), NBA title (2016) and medal in the Olympic Games (2012 bronze), has decided to retire from pro ball at the age of 31.
“I was very blessed and fortunate to play as long as I have. I had a great experience for the (Russian) national team and professionally. Overall, it’s been phenomenal,” Kaun said Saturday in a phone conversation
Kaun said he started thinking seriously about retirement “toward the end of the season. I kind of feel my ankle has been bothering me awhile. With the amount of pain I was going through, I just wanted to be done. It’s something I’ve had all my career,” he added of right ankle problems. “It was definitely getting worse and worse, year by year. Especially coming here (one year in NBA after seven seasons in Moscow) … the intensity of the game I just kind of realized I don’t think I can go and do it any more.
“I said, ‘You know what? I’m not going to be happy playing. I’m not going to be happy not playing. I think it’s a good time to call it quits.’’’
Kaun joined the NBA at age 30 last year — eight years after being the No. 56 pick in the 2008 draft. He played just 95 minutes in 25 games for Cleveland in his rookie and only season.
Perhaps Kaun wouldn’t have retired if he had a roster spot on the defending NBA champions. At minimum, being a free agent made it an easier call.
Kaun was best known professionally for playing for David Blatt both with the Russian national team and the Cavs and not being Kendrick Perkins.