The Wright Stuff
LAS VEGAS, July 5, 2007 -- Sitting courtside for the Hornets afternoon practice on Thursday inside Cox Pavilion, one thing became abundantly clear: head coach Byron Scott stresses fitness. A lot. I'm talking about Terrell Owens doing shirtless situps in the driveway fitness.
If you are out of shape, your chances of earning a roster spot are next to zero. It is a good thing that New Orleans first-round pick Julian Wright doesn't fall into that category.
Wright, the 13th overall selection at last week's NBA Draft, is used to grueling practices from his days as a star at Kansas. He felt right at home doing drills, running sprints and performing suicides for a couple of hours.
The temperature outside in Las Vegas reached 116 degrees. No, Wright didn't practice in the heat but the amount of sweat dripping from his body made it look like he did.
"Everything is going all right," said Wright after his second practice at 2007 NBA Summer League presented by adidas. "I'm trying to get back in the flow in a competitive environment. It is hard to work on defense and rebounding by yourself."
Wright had more than a handful of plays that made you wonder how he could have fell so far in the first round. He attacked the basket, finished well around the rim and made smart decisions on the break. Basically, he did everything but showcase a how-dare-you-give-me-room-jumper.
"It has been all good, I'm having fun," Wright said. "It is always tough building your wind up. We have five games to play here so we all have to be in shape. When you're tired, you don't concentrate and that is when you miss layups and don't play hard on defense."
Wright, who was an honorable mention All-American and a first-team Big 12 selection, will help the Hornets on the glass and with his ability to defend both forward positions.
"I feel like I bring a lot of intangibles to the table," Wright said. "I'm an energy guy who always does the extra stuff. People question if I can play the wing or not. I welcome the challenge. Right now I'm trying to get more confidence. The NBA game is suited for me."
As good as Wright looked against his teammates, he is eager to see what he can do against other competition.
"I'm looking forward to our first game on Saturday," Wright said. "This isn't street ball. I'm learning the plays and just want to get into the flow."
The Summer League, which officially gets underway Friday, features 21 NBA teams and Team China Basketball, competing until July 15 at Thomas & Mack Center and the Cox Pavilion on the campus of UNLV.