The unexpectedly expected rise of Dorell Wright

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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.

After four years out of NBA, Pacers give Damien Wilkins chance to return

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Consider this the most unexpected signing of the summer.

The last time we saw Damien Wilkins in the NBA, the 6’6″ wing out of the University of Georgia was finishing his ninth NBA season, averaging 6.4 points per game and shooting 33.3 percent from three. He looked like a guy who was done at the NBA level. Since then he has played in China, Spain, and the D-League.

The Pacers are giving him another crack to make an NBA roster. They have signed 37-year-old Wilkins to a non-guaranteed deal, reports the Indy Star.

The Indiana Pacers agreed to a one-year, non-guaranteed veteran minimum deal for close to $2 million with small forward and shooting guard Damien Wilkins, a league source confirmed to IndyStar.

The Pacers have 14 guys on the roster already, and they have at the wing Victor Oladipo, Lance Stephenson, Rodney Stuckey, Bojan Bogdanovic, and Glenn Robinson III, it will be tough for Wilkins to crack that rotation.

But he’ll get his chance, and having a desperate veteran pushing guys in camp never hurts. Maybe he can impress enough in camp that if the Pacers don’t want him another team might. It’s a foot in the door, and that’s all Wilkins can ask at this point.

Watch the Top 10 dunks from the NBA Summer League

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Summer League, at its core, is athletic young players in sloppy games.

That leads to massive dunks. Here are the top 10, which John Collins deserving the top spot.

Report: Carmelo Anthony willing to waive $8 million trade kicker for Rockets

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Carmelo Anthony does not want to return to the Knicks. The Knicks want to trade Carmelo Anthony. The Houston Rockets would like to trade for Carmelo Anthony.

So far all that will has not gotten a deal nearly as close to done as has been reported, I was told by sources. There are major hurdles, and the Knicks don’t like the offers they’ve gotten so far, which is why they pulled back (not because of the Scott Perry hiring or some desire to change Anthony’s mind). As has been reported before, Anthony is willing to waive his no trade clause for the right team to get the deal done, Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN said on The Jump.

“My sources tell me he’s willing to waive the trade kicker, which is worth around $8 million, so that makes a little easier for Houston to do a trade.”

That’s nice. It doesn’t solve the core problem with a Rockets’ trade.

The Rockets are over the cap so the only way this trade gets done is they send out enough salary to match and create space for Anthony. The Rockets could do that with a combination of Eric Gordon, Clint Capela, Trevor Ariza, and some expiring deals, but that cuts way too deeply into the roster and hurts the Rockets more than it helps. What the Rockets need to do in this trade is move Ryan Anderson, and his three-years, $60 million — except the Knicks don’t want that contract on their books (even though Anderson is a good player when healthy). So now the two sides are trying to find a third team that would take on Anderson’s contract, but the Rockets are going to have to give up sweeteners — a couple first round picks or a pick and a quality young player — that they don’t have to get the deal done. So enter a fourth team to get the sweeteners, but that team will want things back, and quickly the house of cards falls apart.

On top of all that, the Knicks still don’t think they’re getting enough back in the trade to want to do it. Yet, anyway.

Over on the left coast, there is Portland saying “look at us, look at us!” They would be willing to trade for Anthony, as C.J. McCollum and Damian Lillard have made clear.

One massive problem with that: Anthony has not been interested in waiving his no trade clause for anyone but Cleveland and Houston.

If he changes his mind — and that’s a huge, unlikely “if” — maybe a deal could be found. The Blazers already have a top-five payroll in the NBA (may be top two when all is said and done) and that means they have to send out salary as well, someone like Evan Turner and Meyers Leonard (moving Allen Crabbe is the dream, but also highly unlikely). The Knicks could have interest in Turner, the Blazers have picks to throw in, and if a third team picked up Leonard maybe we’re close to something. But until Anthony makes it clear he would accept a trade to Portland, something he has yet to do, this is all a moot exercize.

But hey, Anthony will waive his trade kicker. So there’s that.

Can Stephen Curry shoot the ball into the sun roof of a car? Did you even need to ask?

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Stephen Curry has been getting up buckets the past week, working on his game. Sort of. It’s been a bit unconventional.

First, he finished off an alley-oop pass from Tony Romo on the American Century golf course in Lake Tahoe.

Then on Thursday he was filming an Infinity car commercial and had to shoot one into the sun roof from what looks to be 15-20 feet away. He drains it.

Of course he made that, he’s basically the Meadowlark Lemon of a new generation, but without the hook shot.