The New York Times enlisted the help of former Penn basketball player Steve Danley to evaluate some of the draft picks ahead of the NBA Draft on Thursday. Here is what he had to say about Brandan Wright:
BRANDAN WRIGHT, FORWARD, NORTH CAROLINA Forecasting Wright’s career is a tough call. He has the talent to be good. When I guarded him in a game in Chapel Hill, he displayed great touch around the basket and an effective spin move, and he dropped in hook shots like a kid tossing pennies in a wishing well.
Here’s the catch. People are rating him the third-best player in the draft. But when we played North Carolina, we considered him the third-biggest threat on the team. We were more worried about Ty Lawson and Tyler Hansbrough. Wright is an awful shooter and ball handler. We didn’t bother to chase him outside eight feet, allowing his defender to play off him and sag into the lane.
It’s not that I don’t think he’ll be a contributor down the road for somebody. It’s just that in this draft, a top-five pick has to be better than a complementary player.
Yeah, how did that work out for you? UNC beat Penn by 38 in Chapel Hill. As it turns out the mistake Penn made was not considering Reyshawn Terry a threat since he lit the Quakers up for 19 points and nine rebounds in only 16 minutes of playing time. Lawson, who was rated as either Threat #1 or #2, actually turned out to be a non-factor according to the box score. Hansbrough had 19 and Wayne Ellington had 17 while Wright had 12. In other words I am not sure how much you can knock a player down in the draft based on how he may have fit into the Penn game plan in a match-up they lost by nearly 40 points. I would consider Lawson the #1 threat on the team in a college basketball game because he is the lynch pin to the whole UNC offense but I am not sure that necessarily makes him a better than Wright when talking about NBA prospects. I would also point out that the game in question happened in early January. I think we saw plenty from Wright during the next three months to understand how good he is. The biggest knock on Wright is his strength, which was a problem at times(see Michigan State) and his effort on the court(which I thought was 100 times better than by season's end.)
I do not disagree with the overall premise that Wright may not be a top five pick. ESPN.com's Chad Ford had him as low as #10 yesterday which means Wright may have made a mistake in coming out this season. I think this situation serves as further evidence that for all the information UNC gathers on behalf of Wright, he still makes a decision without knowing some key facts. And while he could have gone through the process without an agent and withdrawn last week, I would think it is harder for him to get a true read on his status unless he shows himself to be in the draft for good by hiring an agent. If Wright was projected #10 back in May, I think he comes back to Chapel Hill. The problem was during that period he was being shown at #3 based on a projection which could not account for the draft order or other factors. So on the basis he throws his hat into the ring even though everything could change withing six weeks. I hope the prognosticators are wrong and Wright goes top five. However, I still think the process should be changed to allow these players to get as much information as possible before making their decision final.