Chris Mullin made a smart trade to acquire North Carolina forward Brandan Wright, but it’s unlikely that will be enough for the Warriors to make a significant improvement next season. Wright has undeniable talent, but he’s played only one year of collegiate ball.
The Warriors introduced Wright and Stephane Lasme to the media Monday (Marco Belinelli, the Warriors’ 18th overall pick, is playing in Italy).
I asked Warriors coach Don Nelson if Wright had a serious chance of being part of his rotation next season.
“That’s up to him,” Nellie said. “He’s got some skills you can’t teach, but he’s only 19. We’re taking him to Las Vegas tomorrow [for the summer league] to start to teach him the difference between pro ball and collegiate ball.”
There’s no question Wright fits Nelson’s system because he’s tall (6-foot-9), though frightfully thin (205 pounds), rebounds and runs the floor well.
“I was excited when I heard I was going to the Warriors,” he said, “because, coming from Carolina, I like to run.”
But the Warriors haven’t had much immediate success from their young draftees recently. Andris Biedrins, only 18 when he was drafted in 2004, didn’t have much of an impact until last season. Patrick O’Bryant, their first-round pick last year at age 20, spent most of the year in the developmental league.
The only young player who showed much as a rookie was Monta Ellis, who was drafted out of high school but turned 20 in October of his rookie season.
One reason to think Wright may be an exception to that pattern: Nelson was heavily involved in picking him. Though Mullin emphasized in a media meeting before the draft that “We have a lot of eyes looking at this,” there is no question that the most important eyes belonged to him and Nelson.
The two think alike.
“We don’t even have to talk about it,” Mullin said. “We’ll be looking at players and we’ll come up with the same conclusions independently.”
The fact that Nelson is so heavily involved at this point should quell any lingering doubts that he’ll return as coach next season. That was always a phony issue anyway.
Think about it. The Warriors had just come off a crushing loss in the playoffs. Normally, the papers and airwaves would have been full of post-mortems, which would not have been flattering to the Warriors’ players. When Nellie hinted that he might not return, the focus switched to him.
Well, nobody ever said Nelson was dumb.
Nobody says that about Mullin, either. After a shaky start, he has become very sure-footed with his deals, including the last one.
It’s not easy for the Warriors, competing in the loaded Western Conference, and it got more difficult as Portland and Seattle drafted Greg Oden and Kevin Durant, respectively.
Mullin is very close-mouthed about his moves — his big trades have all come as a surprise, though he’s worked on them for some time — but my intuition tells me he’s working hard to pull off another one before the season.
Getting Wright was a good move for the future.
“We think he can be a star,” Nelson said.
But there will be an inevitable learning curve for him, and perhaps a nutritional-strength program sohe can add weight and muscle. More moves will be needed for the Warriors to become serious contenders.
Without any more moves, are the Warriors better?
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