Dorell Wright was one of six guys taken straight out of high school back in 2004 — Dwight Howard was the biggest name but Josh Smith and J.R. Smith were as well. (The reason there is a one-and-done rule now is how other picks that year like Robert Swift and Sebastian Telfair made owners want a cushion to see players longer.)
But while some of his compatriots got to learn on the job, Wright sat. That first season in Miami he played in just three games. He got into 20 his second year as he collected a ring with the 2006 Heat. It was his third year where he played 66 games, started 19 and played about 20 minutes a game.
Talking with the Oregonian — Wright signed with the trail Blazers this summer — he said sitting on the bench and being brought along slowly is the reason he is still in the league today.
“Man, it took me those first three years to develop that shot. I was learning the game. Me using my high school athleticism, it took me time. I learned how to be a professional. I learned how to work hard. A lot of fans, a lot of people don’t really know and ask, ‘How is he still around?!?’ It’s those small things. Those three years in Miami taught me how to play the game, how to be a professional, how to carry myself.”
That and he is a career 43.1 percent shooter from three and in a league where floor spacing is at a premium he brings a real value.
But his professionalism matters — there are a number of guys out there who can shoot but if you know the player is a pro on and off the court you’re more likely to sign him.
Wright leaned his professionalism watching Dwyane Wade, Gary Payton, Alonzo Mourning and some of the other veterans on that team (not to mention Stan Van Gundy and Pat Riley, two pretty good coaches). Now he is the guy passing that along to younger players. At least the Blazers hope so.