Wright tries to capitalize on opportunity to start

Tuesday, March 16, 2010
By: Jim Eichenhofer, Hornets.com

The obvious silver lining to Chris Paul’s lengthy injury absence is that it has given Darren Collison an extended chance to play. The trade of Devin Brown to Chicago provided Marcus Thornton with a similar opportunity.br>br> Meanwhile, Julian Wright’s minutes have recently expanded due to an abdominal injury to Peja Stojakovic that will sideline Stojakovic for at least two weeks. Wright has started each of the past four games.br>br> Always known as a team-first player over his 12-year career, Stojakovic immediately backed Byron Scott's preseason move to have him come off the bench in order for Wright to be elevated to the starting lineup. Stojakovic has been similarly supportive of the third-year pro over the past week-plus, saying that he would love to see Wright capitalize on his greater chance to contribute.br>br> “It’s an opportunity for Julian,” Stojakovic said. “Marcus and Darren embraced the opportunity, really stepped it up and are playing great basketball. I hope Julian is going to do the same thing. He’s a talented young guy. He’s been around, so this is the time to use this opportunity and play good basketball.br>br> “I told him before the game against Oklahoma (City on Wednesday), ‘This is your chance. This is your opportunity.’ He just needs to be focused and show his talents.”br>br> While Stojakovic’s understanding of his own strengths is very clear – he’s been among the NBA’s premier spot-up shooters for a decade-plus – one of Wright’s stumbling blocks at times has been a lack of a defined plan of attack. Stojakovic believes Wright would be best served by narrowing his focus on the floor.br>br> “Julian is a talented guy,” Stojakovic said. “He just tries to do so many things on the floor. If he just focuses on the things he’s assigned to do on the floor, and be specific about those things, he can be really effective.”br>br> In terms of style of play, Wright is essentially the antithesis of Stojakovic as the Hornets’ starting small forward. The athletic and 6-foot-8 Wright has often provided highlight-reels dunks but has been less effective away from the basket, the area where Stojakovic thrives. Wright’s career-high over 167 NBA games is 20 points; Stojakovic has averaged over 20 points in four full seasons of his career. Still, Wright is hoping to improve in areas of the game that don’t show up as readily in the box score, including defending, grabbing loose balls and cutting to the basket on the offensive end. Wright is averaging 8.5 points, 4.5 rebounds and 2.3 steals in 34.3 minutes over the four starts.br>br> “I’m trying to attack the glass and use my athleticism, get rebounds, run the floor and do little things to really put the pressure on the defense,” Wright explained. “Even if I don’t get the rebound, I try to tip it out and keep the ball alive for us.br>br> “I try to cut to the hoop and make the defense turn their heads, which a lot of times will open up the floor for other players and give them more space. But there is no quota or anything like that based on me trying to get certain numbers or statistics. I just want to be effective and be a factor out there.”br>br> Other news:
• The Hornets announced that center Sean Marks had successful surgery on his right shoulder this morning in New Orleans. Marks will begin rehabilitation immediately and will be sidelined the rest of the season.