In an interview with Hoopworld’s Alex Kennedy this morning, Portland’s newly acquired small forward, Dorell Wright, seemed confident that the Blazers could make the playoffs this year:
Yeah, why not? We’ve got the guys. We’ve got a star point guard that can be an All-Star next year. LaMarcus Aldridge was an All-Star last year, and you’ve got guys around them like [Nic] Batum and Wes Matthews that are solid players as well.
That is why he chose to join the Blazers in free agency, knowing full well that he would not be a starter. For the first time in a long time, Portland is a destination that free agents want to end up. Wright signed on for $6 million over two seasons the second free agency officially began on July 10th.
Aside from the warm fuzzies that accompany supporting a desirable franchise; here’s why I’m excited for Dorell to suit up:
While the Blazers’ starters were quality 3-point shooters overall last season, statistics betray the unbalancing ineptitudes of everyone else. Portland ranked 20th in 3P% last season, but 4th in attempted threes. Since we know that Lillard, Matthews, and Batum aren’t bringing that percentage down, we can safely assume that the bench was chucking.
Damian Lillard: 185/503 = 36.8% (Good)
Wesley Matthews: 169/425 = 39.8% (Great)
Nicolas Batum: 165/444 = 37.2% (Good)
Combined: 519/1,372 = 37.8% (Very good)
That’s better than the league leading Knicks shot from the arc last year (37.6%). So let’s examine a few of the Blazers’ other three-point contributors.
Luke Babbitt: 62/178 = 34.8% (Adequate)
Sasha Pavlovic: 18/60 = 30.0% (Bad)
Victor Claver: 25/87 = 28.7% (Bad)
Ronnie Price: 10/39 = 25.6% (Very bad)
Nolan Smith: 6/28 = 21.4% (Yikes)
Will Barton: 9/65 = 13.8% (Blind)
Combined: 130/457 = 28.4% (Bad)
Fortunately, the Blazers’ historically awful bench has been largely replaced with step-up players of the 3-point shooting variety. Dorell Wright is the 3-point threat Portland needs on the wing to help space the floor for everyone else and knock down shots when it’s his turn.
It may surprise you to know that the Gold State Warriors’ franchise record for most threes in a single game does not belong to Jason Richardson, or even Steph Curry. That honor belongs to Dorell Wright, who made 9 treys against the Minnesota Timberwolves in 2010 (the same season in which he led the league in 3-pointers made).
Over the course of his 9 year career, Wright has never been an all-star, nor should he have been. That’s fine by me, because that’s not what we expect from him. He did, however, participate in the All-Star Weekend 3-point shootout in 2011. That honor is only given to the elite ranged players in the NBA, and should be enough to spark your interest in his contribution to the Blazers.
Wright spent much of his career spinning his wheels in Miami and is consequently the only NBA player to ever score more points in his seventh NBA season than the preceding six combined. His NBA prime was short-lived, but explosive, and now he is ready to be one of the many role players that Portland needs.
 – Wright is joined by fellow incoming Blazers, CJ McCollum and Mo Williams, who also excel from the arc. The Blazers have assembled a crew that could be reminiscent of D’Antoni’s ‘7 seconds or less’ Phoenix Suns. It will be most interesting to see what kind of offense Terry Stotts puts together this year.