Brandan Wright: Getting Ready For Life In The NBA
August 23, 2007
On Draft Night 2007, the Warriors made big news by trading Jason Richardson to the Charlotte Bobcats. And while initial reactions to the trade have centered on the six-year veteran, much less attention has been given to the player landed in exchange for Richardson - rookie Brandan Wright. Still more than two months away from seeing his first NBA regular season action, Wright wasn’t just a throw-in in this deal. He was the deal.
"We are very excited that we were able to get Brandan," Warriors Executive Vice President of Basketball Operations Chris Mullin said on draft night. "We targeted him from the outset of the draft and we feel that with his athleticism, length and ability to block shots, he fits perfectly into our up-tempo style of play."
Although he’s just a rookie, Wright is well aware of the fact that he has some large shoes to fill.
"He was a consistent performer on this team," Wright said of Richardson in an exclusive warriors.com interview. "He was a guy who was loved around this city, a guy who helped win this team’s first playoff series in a while. He’s definitely going to be missed, but hopefully I can do even more."
Wright joins the Warriors with quite a pedigree. The No. 8 selection in the 2007 NBA Draft, the 6-foot-10 forward played one season for one of the premiere programs in all of college basketball at the University of North Carolina. Wright did more than just hold his own with the Tar Heels. He earned Atlantic Coast Conference Rookie of the Year and Second Team All-ACC honors for a freshman season that saw him lead the conference in field goal percentage (64.6 percent) while averaging 14.6 points, 6.2 rebounds and 1.76 blocks per game.
That season followed a wildly successful high school career in which Wright led his Brentwood Academy team to four-consecutive Tennessee state championships. A native of Nashville, the two-time Parade All-American selection was named Tennessee's Division II Mr. Basketball in 2004, 2005 and 2006, becoming the first-ever player to win the award three times at any level of Tennessee high school basketball. While growing up in Tennessee, Wright says that he never reallly had a favorite NBA team, but he most definitely had a favorite player.
"My favorite player has always been Kevin Garnett, and I like Chris Bosh a lot now too," said Wright. "I try to take bits and pieces of their game here and there, but I do my own things too."
Already owning a basketball resume worth bragging about, it’s easy to forget that he’s just 19 years old – and he won’t turn 20 until the Warriors are in Hawaii for training camp in October.
When camp officially opens on October 2, Wright might just be amongst the most prepared players on the team. He’s been a regular at the Warriors’ practice facility recently, working on all aspects of his game along with fellow rookies Stephane Lasme and Kosta Perovic. Along with the other two big men, Wright showed up to Oakland ahead of schedule in order to get a head start on preparations for the season.
"I’m going to be ready (for the season)," Wright said. "We started (working out) pretty early. Usually it starts in September, but we started a couple weeks early to get in shape and just be ready because it’s going to be a long season."
Coming to the Bay Area early also gives the Nashville native more time to get accustomed to his new home.
"I really haven't been out much yet because I've just been working out everyday," Wright said. "I'm still trying to get settled, trying to find place and a car and everything. I might do some sightseeing on the weekends, maybe catch a football game."
Wright has a lot to look forward to during his rookie season. He’ll learn more about basketball and about life in the NBA. He’ll also develop his game and become more of a complete player. But unlike most lottery picks, Wright will not join a team that was unsuccessful the year prior. The forward will be playing for a Warriors team that beat the No.1 seeded Dallas Mavericks in the 2007 NBA Playoffs. He will also have the chance to play for a legendary coach who knows how to utilize athletic big men who know how to run.
"I'm looking forward to playing for (Coach Nelson)," Wright said about the Warriors head coach. "He allows his players to show their talent and show what they can do. I really respect him."
In addition, he’ll have a solid core of veterans such as Al Harrington, Austin Croshere and Stephen Jackson to help show him the ropes, both on and off the court. But perhaps more than any other, Wright will be able to lean on point guard Baron Davis.
"He’s a guard who can really help out big men," Wright said. "He can get guys involved and he draws a lot of attention because of his talent. It’s going to be great playing with him and to get up and down the court with him, maybe having him throw me some lobs."
Like Andris Biedrins, Wright has good hands, is very fluid around the hoop and can run the court extremely well. Whether or not he blossoms into a future All-Star remains to be seen, but one can be sure he’s taking all the necessary steps in order to do so.
"I plan on being here for my whole career,” Wright said. The last couple of years I’ve been on the move – college and back home – but I’m looking forward to getting settled here."