Just when fans, coaches, and players pondered what to do with the center position for the Dallas Mavericks, Brandan Wright returns to the lineup on queue. In his first game back, without Dirk Nowitzki, Wright steps up to lead the Mavs to a home victory over the Milwaukee Bucks.
Wright’s stat line from Saturday: 9-10 shooting for 19 points in 19 minutes. That seems pretty efficient to me.
The Mavs started the season with Samuel Dalembert as their answer for the center position. After experimenting with a defensive-liability like Chris Kaman last season, the franchise wanted a more defensive-minded option. The pursuit of Dwight Howard and Andrew Bynum in the offseason did not pan out, leaving Dallas to look over the pick-and-pull scrap yard of the NBA to find a “fixer-upper”. Although Dalembert can get started at times, he has yet to be reliable enough to be a long term option. In 24 games he has started in only 17, and did not see the floor this past Saturday.
DeJuan Blair has been the beneficiary of Dalembert’s lack of focus. He was signed as a serviceable bench player, but as started six games and averages one minute less per night (21.4) than Dalembert. Blair has been the team’s best rebounder averaging 7.5 per game. His admitted downfall is foul trouble. At times it seems the fouls find him.
Wright’s good play is not a flash in the pan. Towards the end of the last season, as the team was trying to make the playoffs, he became an integral part of both ends of the court. More importantly, he was able to perform with Dirk on the court unlike Kaman.
Moving Wright into the starting lineup after one game seems premature by his own admission:
I’m probably 65-70% in shape…It’s just the first game. I’ve got a long ways to go. We’ve got a lot of good practice time coming up. I should be even better on Wednesday.
Let’s all hope so…