Dorell Wright has always been a player whose name I have recognized, but been rather unfamiliar with his body of work (likely the case for many fans). He entered the league in 2004 with Miami, where he stayed for six seasons. If you are counting, this means that yes, he does have a championship ring, a fact that I think has gone largely under the radar. By my count this makes him the only current Blazer to do so (unless you count the soon to be released Terrel Harris).
After Miami, he had his two most productive seasons in Golden State, where he made a name for himself, and was most recently in Philadelphia last year. During his first season in Golden State (the best of his career), he put up a better-than-you-would-have-guessed stat line of of 16.3 points, 5.3 rebounds, 3.0 assists and 1.5 steals per game, on 42.3% shooting (37.6% from three). While not mind-blowing, those are darn good numbers for the highest level of competition in the world.
Expectations must be tempered, however, because he did this in over 38 minutes per game, something that will definitely not happen in Portland. As a whole, Wright’s stats throughout his career scream “solid” to me. I waffle back and forth on the “solid” topic, because I think that, as a general rule, you do not go far in the NBA with “solid.” While I still believe this, I 1) acknowledge that it is impossible to have a team composed of entirely elite players, and 2) know that it is different for bench players.
This second point was never more apparent than last season, when the Blazers bench was two, if not three, steps below being solid – it was just shoddy. I will gladly take Wright as an upgrade. Another thing that struck me was Wright’s consistency – throughout his career, his production has remained very similar when in a contributing role; something to appreciate in a bench player. The bench is there primarily to hold down the fort for a team (especially since the Blazers’ starters seemed to be more than adequate) and perhaps occasionally provide a spark. This will be a great fit for Wright.
Watching as many clips of him as I could, the first thing that struck me was Wright’s quick shooting release, particularly on threes. This is always a nice skill to have, as it allows him to get his shots off even when facing oncoming pressure. I also noticed he seemed to have an uncanny knack for finishing near the rim with some non-traditional looking scoop shots. I had heard that he finished well around the rim, and I suspect this is a large reason why. If it works, it works. In fact, just two seasons ago, Wright shot an unbelievable 71.4% at the rim. This is astounding for a primarily perimeter player.
Coupled with his good three-point shooting, Wright has a nice little inside/outside game that just so happens to focus on the two most efficient shots in the game, layups and three pointers. In full disclosure, Wright has an absolutely anemic mid-range game, which was on full display last season when he shot a brutal 23% (not a typo) from the 10ft to 16ft range. It appears as if he knows this, though, as layups and threes were his two most frequent shots. This is an area, though, where Terry Stotts and the coaching staff can make a huge difference.
Wright has also been knocked for his ball handling, but I don’t see this being a problem on this Blazers squad. He will likely be playing many, if not most, of his minutes with Mo Williams and/or CJ McCollum, who are both ball-dominant guards. In theory, all Wright has to do is spot up for juicy three point looks, with perhaps some sneaky cuts to the basket thrown in. All in all, I am seeing multiple ways in which Wright appears to be a great fit for the team as currently constructed.
Lastly, Wright’s off the court factors all seem positive. As David excellently broke down earlier, all indications are that Wright wanted to end up in Portland. This is not something that should be underestimated. When a player is in a place that he wants to be, the results are far better than if he was forced onto a team he has no desire to play for.
I also am very happy that he has a championship ring. I know he played a whopping 132 minutes that entire season, so he could not be counted as a contributor, but the fact still remains: Wright was around a team and an organization that went all the way. As a result, he has seen firsthand what it takes to make a deep run into the playoffs. He was there during the practices, the meetings, the ups, the downs, etc. Even if he did not see much court time, he was in a championship environment. Now that he is a bit older and more mature (approaching 28), my hope is that he can impart this experience onto some of the Blazers younger players.
When it’s all said and done, the more I look at it, the more I like the Wright signing. With a (thankfully) crowded bench, my minor concern is that he gets enough minutes. I trust Stotts, though, and with no other really viable options at small forward behind Nicolas Batum, this should be a non-issue.