Summer League Spotlight: Chris Wright Hoping to Stick with Young Bucks
Every NBA D-League player aspires to reach the NBA. For the most elite NBA D-League prospects and alums like Chris Wright – who has earned several Gatorade Call-Ups and non-guaranteed NBA contracts since going undrafted in the 2011 NBA Draft out of the University of Dayton – the goal is no longer to earn a Gatorade Call-Up; the goal is to become a permanent fixture on an NBA roster.
Fortunately, Wright may have found his NBA home with the Milwaukee Bucks.
After earning NBA D-League All-Star honors last season as a member of the Maine Red Claws, Wright signed two 10-day contracts with the Bucks, and he impressed enough to receive a non-guaranteed multi-year deal from the team once the second 10-day expired.
Now, Wright is playing on the Bucks’ Summer League team in Las Vegas alongside heralded young stars Giannis Antetokounmpo and second overall NBA Draft pick Jabari Parker.
“I appreciate them for taking a chance on me and giving me the opportunity to prove what I can do," Wright said after chipping in 6 points in 18 minutes during the highly anticipated Parker-Andrew Wiggins showdown. "I just want to continue to build on that and help our team as much as possible to show them that they didn’t make a mistake.”
Wright is excited to be with the Bucks, but he is far from satisfied. Just last season he was in a similar position with the Toronto Raptors, until the team waived him just days prior to the tip of the 2013-14 NBA season. This time around Wright is determined to make the Bucks’ opening day roster, and he is talking with the coaching staff daily to make sure he is on the right track.
“The coaches have told me to continue to do the things I do well," he said. "They still want me to improve my game and improve my shooting, but they’ve told me to be the best at what I’m good at and not try to be anyone else. That’s what is really going to get me out on the floor and stick.”
If you have seen highlight reels of Wright’s tomahawk dunks, you know he is a world-class athlete, but Wright knows that athleticism alone will not be enough to ensure a role in the NBA: “I’ve really been trying to take my game to another level mentally, because talent and athleticism can only take you so far.”
While training in Milwaukee and now at Summer League, practicing against talented players like Antetokounmpo and Parker has been a welcome challenge for Wright. He even joked, “They aren’t getting anything!”
Though the young duo may be in front of Wright on the depth chart, Wright has embraced the two and he relishes the relationship they are developing. “Giannis and Jabari are only 19, so it’s crazy for them to be so young and to be as gifted and skilled as they are. Those are also unbelievable guys, in terms of being good people.”
The Bucks’ two franchise players seem to think pretty highly of Wright in return. “They look up to me as a big brother figure and role model," he said, "so I take a lot of pride in that and make sure I’m working hard every day.”