Connect with us

NBA

NBA AM: Let’s Make A Deal – NBA Draft Edition

The NBA Draft is just two days away and NBA teams are now in full on “deal making” mode. Who is trying to make a move and what’s being talked about in the march up to the 2014 NBA Draft?

Steve Kyler

Published

on

Let’s Make A Deal:  With the NBA Draft just two days and less than 10 hours away, teams are now in full on “deal making” mode. This usually results in a lot of chatter and very little action. What’s becoming clear in the talk is that a number of teams at the top of the draft would like to move around and there are some real assets in play. Let’s take a look at what’s in play as of today:

Cleveland Cavaliers:  With the top overall pick in their pocket and the literal pick of the litter, the Cavs have started to entertain what else they could get for the top pick instead of their choice of players. There is a report from Cleveland that the Utah Jazz have made a hard push for the top pick with an offer said to include Derrick Favors, Alec Burks and the fifth overall pick. Such a package would be a massive haul for the Cavaliers, who would rather move toward proven veterans given the state of their roster. The Cavs have had a number of teams approach them about the top pick and even with a haul like that on the table, it seems they are still holding the line.

The Cavs are said to be leaning toward Jabari Parker with the top overall pick, if they keep it, but there is a still a lot of deal making time to be had so whether or not the Cavs will ultimately hold the top pick on Thursday is still very much up in the air.

Need To Read: 2014 NBA Mock Draft: Consensus Ver 7.5

Orlando Magic:  The Orlando Magic are absolutely open for business, as one rival executive put it. Although there have been several reports suggesting specific packages and offers, sources close to the process say the team isn’t nearly that close to a deal to be hammering on specifics. The Magic are said to have the entire team on the table for the right combination of assets. The Magic hold the fourth and 12th picks in Thursday’s draft and have been angling to move up in the draft, possibly into one of the top two picks. Sources say there really is not much that’s off limits in talks and that Orlando is willing to listen to overtures on their own picks in trade down scenarios too. The Chicago Bulls have been linked most prominently to a deal with Orlando involving shooting guard Arron Afflalo, although sources say that’s not likely happening on draft night, but it’s still very much in play. The dark horse to obtain Afflalo still remains the Charlotte Hornets, who have long coveted him and are willing to give up the ninth pick and a roster player to do it.

Like the Cavaliers, the Magic have a number of options they are weighing, but the smart money says despite the chatter the Magic likely end up where they are at with four and 12, but they are working through the process and are willing to deal.

Keep an eye on Jameer Nelson on draft night; his $8 million contract is only partially guaranteed for next season, meaning for $2 million in cash, a team could clear $6 million in cap space. For those teams looking hard at free agents like Carmelo Anthony, Nelson’s contract is fairly attractive.

Get the 2014 NBA Draft Issue of Basketball Insiders Magazine. The magazine can be purchased in three ways: You can buy it on the web, and the magazine will work on all devices. | You can buy it from the iTunes app store (for Apple users) | You can buy it from the Google Play store (for Android users). Get yours today!

Boston Celtics:  The Celtics are sitting on the sixth and 17th picks in Thursday’s draft and would love to package them with a roster or player or two and get a serious player in return. The Celtics have been at the Minnesota Timberwolves regarding Kevin Love, but that seems to be at a standstill mainly because of the Timberwolves. There is a belief that as the draft starts to unfold and the true value of Boston’s picks become real with players available, that things may change.

If the Celtics reach for an odd selection at six that may be the telltale sign that they have a deal with someone else.

Equally the Celtics have made it clear that both of their picks are obtainable, so someone wanting to move to the sixth pick could find a willing partner in Boston.

Equally there is a sense that if Kansas big man Joel Embiid is on the board at six, the Celtics would draft him. However, there continues to be reports from teams that are hearing about the details of Embiid’s medical review and even the Celtics may be scared away from him at six. At 17, that’s an entirely different story.

The Celtics are being very active, which is usual for them at this time of year. However, it seems they are not willing to move on a major deal until Minnesota moves Love, but they may be willing to do some minor deals including moving the non-guaranteed $5.28 million contract of Keith Bogans. Like Nelson he is expected to be moved on draft day to a team looking to clear cap space.

Need To Read: Should Celtics Be Pro Kevin Love or Carmelo Anthony?

Utah Jazz:  The Utah Jazz are not going to sit quietly and wait for their turn. They have been extremely active. The Jazz have not been overly excited to be sitting on the fifth pick in this draft class and have been at all three teams sitting at the top. Their target surprisingly is not Jabari Parker, as much as fans may want to see Parker in Salt Lake City, sources say their ideal target is Andrew Wiggins.

As covered above, the Jazz are believed to have made a whopper of an offer to Cleveland looking to pry the top overall pick loose. It’s believed they have a similar offer on the table to the Milwaukee Bucks and to the Philadelphia 76ers, assuming one of them can deliver Wiggins.

Parker is not completely out of the discussion for Utah, neither is Australian guard Dante Exum.

In addition to the fifth pick, the Jazz also hold the 23rd pick, which they have been actively shopping. When you hear about teams trying to obtain a first rounder this is one of the picks that could be had.

Typically when a team is this aggressive about trying to make a deal, they usually make one, so do not be surprised to see Utah move out of the number five spot. The question is what will they really give up to do it?

Philadelphia 76ers:  Much like the Jazz, the 76ers are feeling a little squeamish about the third spot. They too have had eyes for Andrew Wiggins and there was a sense that he would fall to them at three, and then Embiid required foot surgery. The Cavs seem to have zeroed in on Parker or Wiggins if they keep the top pick, leaving the 76ers to catch whatever falls to them at three and it’s believed the Bucks are leaning towards Parker or Exum. Philadelphia wouldn’t be crushed to land Exum; they are very high on him, however if surrendering the 10th pick or a roster player like Thaddeus Young could get them Wiggins they seems open to pulling the trigger.

The 76ers have also been linked to a deal with the L.A. Lakers that would net them the seventh pick in exchange for Michael Carter-Williams, Young and two of Philly’s five second round picks. It’s believed the 76ers would also take on the contract of Steve Nash.

The logic of the deal, according to sources, is the 76ers trade their third and 10th pick to move up, while landing the seventh pick from the Lakers to walk out of the draft with two top players.

This deal seems like it would be contingent on Philly getting the player they want at the top.

NBA teams are prohibited from trading draft picks in consecutive years. Once the draft begins the Lakers are allowed to deal their pick, or more importantly a player they select with the pick.

Several teams have been at both the Lakers and the Sixers for a deal involving their picks and were turned away, so there is a sense this deal, or some variation of it, is very much in play.

LA Lakers:  As mentioned above the Lakers are not holding firm with the seventh pick. In fact, they have shopped it as hard as almost any team in the league. The challenge for the Lakers is until players start to fall into slots their pick is not overly attractive.

There is a sense that the Lakers have three or four deals they could do with the seventh pick, including several “move down” scenarios. The Lakers have been looking at several draft prospects that project significantly lower than their seventh pick, so they have done their homework on moving down.

The Lakers are also very much open to moving the seventh pick to offload the guaranteed contract of Steve Nash. It’s unclear if any of the teams with cap space would take on the deal, although as mentioned above there is a belief the Lakers could trigger a deal with Philadelphia.

As thing stand today, the Lakers have three fully guaranteed contracts: Kobe Bryant ($23.5 million), Steve Nash ($9.701 million) and Robert Sacre ($915K). Nick Young holds a player option worth $1.227 million, which he is expected to decline. The Lakers have the option to restrict pending free agents Kent Bazemore and Ryan Kelly and hold a non-guaranteed option on Kendall Marshall worth $915,000. Given the cap hold rules, the Lakers are likely to hang on to Marshall, Bazemore and possibly Kelly, giving them a likely salary cap number in the $37 million range. Dumping Nash with little in return would get them to roughly $27 million in salary commitments plus whatever they take back for Nash.

In a conservative way, the Lakers could get to $30-$35 million in usable cap space if they can offload Nash and the guaranteed salary of the seventh pick.

The Lakers seem motivated to make a deal, the question becomes can they find a willing partner?

Minnesota Timberwolves:  The Timberwolves have been busy. Not just on the Kevin Love front, which according to sources likely is going nowhere as Flip Saunders proclaimed early on in the process. The Wolves have also been sniffing around with their own draft pick, the 13th selection. The Wolves are said to covet a knock down shooter and may find a couple of candidates there at 13, however they seem more than willing to move down and return themselves a veteran asset.

The Wolves are in “win now” mode, according to several teams that have tried to extract Love, and they are willing to trade out of the 13th pick altogether if it gets them something they can bank on.

It’s believed that Jose Barea ($4.519 million), Corey Brewer ($4.702 million) and Alexey Shved ($3.15 million) could all be had on draft night along with the 13th pick to either move up to obtain a serious draft prospect or to move out and return a solid proven veteran.

Most of the teams that have made passes at the Wolves regarding Love are expected to re-visit on draft night, but sources near that process said that the Wolves’ stance is that virtually everything they are being offered will be available to them in July and that they may re-open talks then, but for now Love seems to be somewhat off the table, unless the offers get dramatically better.

Chicago Bulls:  The Bulls are also not sitting out the draft transaction window. They have been active in trying to combine their two draft selections, the 16th and the 19th picks. The sense is they’d rather have one player from this draft class a little further up the draft board and have been targeting the 11th pick from the Denver Nuggets and the 13th pick from the Minnesota Timberwolves.

The Bulls have also made runs at Minnesota regarding Kevin Love, with an offer believed to be centered on Taj Gibson, Tony Snell and their two first-round picks.

The Bulls have also been linked to Magic guard Arron Afflalo, also believed to be centered around those same picks. There has been some speculation that Chicago might be trying to dump Carlos Boozer on the Magic in exchange for Afflalo and Jameer Nelson, offering their picks and possibly Snell as sweeteners.

The Bulls are absolutely kicking the tires on a number of fronts, so they are expected to be active on draft night, if only in trading their existing picks.

Chicago is considered one of the frontrunners to land Knicks forward Carmelo Anthony, although Bulls sources warned that they have been down this free agent road before, and while they are absolutely ready to present to free agents they are not putting all their eggs or assets into one basket.

Need To Read: Would Carmelo Anthony Actually Be Miami’s Best Bet?

Phoenix Suns:  The Phoenix Suns are equally active, looking at options on both the 13th pick and the 27th pick. Sources close to that situation say the 27th pick is likely going to be flipped on draft night for a future asset, but that the Suns are still very much open to deals involving not only their two picks, but players on their roster.

There has been some scuttle that Phoenix might be open to moving Goran Dragic, although Suns sources adamantly denied that Dragic was available.

There is a sense, however, that other parts of the Suns roster could be had for the right return.

The Suns are sitting on a potential mountain of cap space and want to get involved in the free agent run, including what’s believed to be an aggressive pitch to Carmelo Anthony.

The Suns have also been at the Minnesota Timberwolves regarding Kevin Love, but have found their assets are not as attractive to Minnesota as some of the other suitors, mainly because the Wolves covet proven veterans not younger players.

The Suns are very much in play as we march up to the NBA Draft. At worst, they are moving their second first round pick and best they could get involved in bigger move up or move out kind of trade, especially if it yields the right kind of impact veterans.

We Have You Covered! NBA Draft Day isn’t just another day on the calendar, it’s Christmas Day for us. And we’ll have everything you need to stay up to date on all the happenings around the draft starting with the 2014 NBA Draft Day Diary featuring up-to-the minute news, notes and rumors; all on one page and all in one place. The diary drops on Wednesday morning and will be updated all the way through the 2014 NBA Draft. Need some more Mock Draft action? A new draft day 60-Pick Mock Draft will drop Wednesday morning as part of the Final Consensus Mock Draft of the season. Want more? Basketball Insiders will have reporters on the ground in New York, posting and tweeting the latest news and interviews with the players invited to the draft, and our first ever Video Mock Draft. As the draft unfolds, we’ll have instant reaction to all of the first round picks including quotes and reaction from the players themselves. If you want to know everything that’s out there – be on Basketball Insiders all day on Draft day.

More Twitter:  Make sure you are following all of our guys on Twitter to ensure you are getting the very latest from our team: @stevekylerNBA, @AlexKennedyNBA, @TheRocketGuy, @LangGreene, @EricPincus, @joelbrigham, @SusanBible @TommyBeer, @JabariDavisNBA , @NateDuncanNBA , @MokeHamilton , @JCameratoNBA and @YannisNBA.

Advertisement




3 Comments

3 Comments

  1. Pingback: NBA Rumors: Latest Scoops Across the League Entering Draft Week | IamDistinct

  2. Pingback: Magic are open for business? | Orlando Magic Daily

  3. Pingback: Charlotte Hornets Rumors: Buying or Selling Gossip Ahead of 2014 NBA Draft | IamDistinct

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

NBA

Update: Eric Bledsoe Trade Talks

Michael Scotto updates the ongoing Eric Bledsoe trade saga.

Michael Scotto

Published

on

The sun has set on the 2017-18 season for Phoenix three games into the year.

The Suns fired head coach Earl Watson and promoted Jay Triano as the team’s interim head coach, as ESPN first reported. The Suns suffered an embarrassing 124-76 loss in the home opener against the Portland Trail Blazers. The final straw came during a 130-88 loss to the Los Angeles Clippers on the road to drop the team to 0-3.

Then things went from bad to worse rapidly after a tweet from guard Eric Bledsoe.

General manager Ryan McDonough spoke with Bledsoe. Bledsoe told McDonough he was at a hair salon with a girl and the tweet wasn’t related to the Suns. McDonough didn’t believe that to be true and said the 27-year-old guard “won’t be with us going forward.”

Bledsoe spoke with McDonough and owner Robert Sarver privately several weeks ago. During that conversation the desire for a change was expressed, a league source told Basketball Insiders.

Since then, Phoenix has discussed trades involving Bledsoe around the league, sources told Basketball Insiders. In addition, Tyson Chandler has continued to be shopped by the Suns during that time.

Trade talks have rapidly picked up since Bledsoe’s desire to be traded was made public.

The Suns and Denver Nuggets have discussed a trade of Eric Bledsoe for Emmanuel Mudiay and other pieces, league sources told Basketball Insiders.

Nuggets forward Kenneth Faried has emerged as part of the trade package with Mudiay, league sources told Basketball Insiders.

Denver has shopped Faried for years. The 27-year-old forward is owed $12.9 million this season and $13.7 million next season. Mudiay is owed $3.4 million this season and $4.3 million next season. Mudiay will then become a restricted free agent if given a qualifying offer in the summer of 2019. For more information on Denver’s salary cap situation, click here.

The Suns also spoke to the New York Knicks and asked for No. 8 overall pick Frank Ntilikina and Willy Hernangomez in exchange for Bledsoe. The Knicks are not interested in that package, however.

Kyle O’Quinn is a candidate to be traded. Several teams have called the Knicks expressing interest in O’Quinn. New York wants to retain Hernangomez for the foreseeable future despite a lack of playing time early in the season. It’s also worth noting Hernangomez is a close friend of Kristaps Porzingis. Ntilikina is currently the point guard of the future in New York.

In addition, New York would need to add a salary filler to make the trade work financially. For more information on New York’s salary cap situation, click here.

The Milwaukee Bucks have also expressed interest in trading for Bledsoe, according to the New York Times. The Los Angeles Clippers and Portland Trail Blazers also have interest in Bledsoe, according to Amico Hoops.

Bledsoe is owed $14.5 million this season and $15 million next season before entering unrestricted free agency in the summer of 2018.

Bledsoe has averaged 18.8 points, 6.0 assists, 4.8 rebounds, and 1.6 steals per game with Phoenix. In addition, Bledsoe shot 45 percent from the field, 34 percent from downtown, and 81 percent from the foul line.

Continue Reading

NBA

NBA PM: Greek Freak Off to an MVP-Caliber Start

Giannis Antetokounmpo is the Bucks’ MVP and looks primed to be in the actual MVP race this season.

James Blancarte

Published

on

The NBA season is officially underway. Although each team has only played a few games so far, it has helped illuminate where many teams and players are in their development. For example, last night’s game in Oklahoma City gave a glimpse into how the Thunder will handle a late-game situation now that the team has three previous number one options. In the final minute, Russell Westbrook scored two of the Thunder’s last three baskets and assisted Carmelo Anthony on the final basket just before Andrew Wiggins hit a game-winning buzzer beater from well beyond the arc.

After three games, Giannis Antetokounmpo’s individual development has been one of the most exciting storylines to follow. A number of positive and far-reaching questions can be asked of Giannis. What is the ceiling for him? Can a player of his considerable talents continue to improve after winning Most Improved Player last season? Remember, Giannis was drafted in 2013 and is still only 22 years old.

When told in August that although he could win most valuable player, he could not also win most improved player as well, he responded with a simple, yet telling response.

“Why not?” Antetokounmpo responded.

While he continued to be lighthearted and moved on to the next topic, it’s fair to ask, “why not?” when it comes to Giannis. Through three regular season games, he is averaging 38.3 points, five assists, 9.7 rebounds and 2.7 assists per game. These averages will likely regress to more sustainable numbers as the season continues. For now, however, his averages are in elite territory. In addition, his ability to impact the game is already getting to the point where LeBron James may be the only other player who can similarly fill up the stat lines while physically terrorizing opponents on both the offensive and defensive end of the court.

When asked who the “biggest freak in the NBA” is, Giannis elaborated that it was James due to his ability to impose himself on the game.

“The things [James] does, the veteran leadership he brings to the team, how big he is, how quick, how strong,” Giannis stated. “And at the end of the day, how smart he is. He can put his team in the right spots, make the right decision.”

In Saturday night’s game against the Portland Trail Blazers, Giannis willed his team to victory. It was Giannis demonstrating how big, strong and smart he was, putting his team on his shoulders and carrying them to an impressive win.
With less than a minute left in a close game, Giannis closed in with a well-timed double team on Damian Lillard and came away with a clean steal. The steal got the Bucks the ball back and Giannis was fouled, which put him on the free throw line. Unfortunately, he came up short on both attempts and the Bucks remained a point behind.

Despite missing the free throws, Giannis came up huge on the very next play. Giannis took on C.J McCollum one-on-one at the top of the key and created yet another steal. He then leaked out to receive the pass for a breakaway dunk that quickly gave the Bucks the lead with 11.4 seconds remaining.

On the next play, when Jusuf Nurkic set a high screen and roll, he received the pass on the roll and headed to the basket. Giannis’ primary responsibility was the shooter in the corner and yet he read the action correctly and was ready and waiting at the rim for Nurkic. Giannis times Nurkic’s shot perfectly and rejected him at the rim, which effectively ended the game in favor of the Bucks.

Giannis’ ability as defensive Swiss Army Knife was instrumental in the Bucks’ close win over Portland. In addition, Giannis has also made further improvements in an area of his that has received a lot of attention over the years. He continues to shoot a below average three-point percentage for his career (27.6) and has had a rocky start to this season as well (16.7). It’s likely that Giannis’ three-point shooting will be a significant limitation in his game for the foreseeable future. However, over his career, Giannis has shown an ability to improve his shooting percentage on two-point shots consistently, especially shots from 0-3 feet and 3-10 feet, per basketball-reference. As Giannis has gotten stronger and more explosive, he has developed a strong desire to attack opponents off the dribble and absorb contact at the rim. Whether he blows by his opponent outright or scores through opponents at the rim, Giannis has developed into an offensive force that few players in the league could hope to slow down.

In addition to his scoring, Giannis continues to display his unique ability to handle the ball in transitions and run the Bucks’ offense in the half court as a point forward. This sort of ability separates Giannis from the other elite wings in the league who don’t have the skill or vision to act as a primary playmaker. Giannis is doing much of what he did last year, but seems more aggressive and physically dominant through the first three games of this season. That sort of improvement of course puts Giannis in the MVP discussion (though it is incredibly early in the season to even start this sort of discussion).

Giannis was recently asked about his ability to win the MVP and wasn’t shy about his desire to win the prestigious award.

“I’m going to be one of the players that hopefully dominates the game. But I’ve got to still make sure that my team wins, that my teammates get better,” Giannis stated. “I’ve set the goal since the last game against Toronto last year, at the playoffs. I want to be the MVP this year.”

What helps solidify Giannis’ ability to be such a strong MVP candidate is also what makes his team less dangerous. The Bucks are woefully dependent on their star and, at least for now, lack the necessary depth to be a true contender in the East.

Through three regular season games, it’s clear that the Bucks will only go as far as Giannis can take them. And that is the key to Giannis’ budding MVP campaign. Let’s take a look at last year’s top five MVP candidates. Last year’s winner, Westbrook, has two new star-caliber players (Paul George and Carmelo Anthony) to share the spotlight, and the ball, with. James Harden is sharing the ball with Chris Paul, who is currently struggling with a knee injury. LeBron James and the Cavaliers are almost exclusively concerned with the postseason. Kawhi Leonard is similarly crucial to the San Antonio Spurs on offense and defense but has lingering health concerns and has yet to play this season. Finally, Isaiah Thomas is coming off a major hip injury and is not projected to play until January.

With so much uncertainty, Giannis has the opportunity to continue to draw attention as not only the most important player on the Bucks but perhaps the most valuable player in the league. Giannis’ early play this season indicates that this is possible. Despite his early-season outburst, Giannis is giving deference to LeBron James — though he admits he hopes to reach James’ level at some point in the future.

“Definitely [James is] the best player in the NBA. For a few years to come,” Giannis stated. “But I think a lot of players are getting better. Even myself. And hopefully one day we can get to that spot from him.”

Perhaps Giannis will take the spot as the best player in the NBA as early as this season. Considering how dominant he has been so far this season, it’s fair to ask “why not?”

Continue Reading

NBA

Wright Primed To Take Next Step With Raptors

Third year Utah alum Delon Wright is showing flashes of what he can do in an expanded role for Toronto.

Spencer Davies

Published

on

Backup point guards are essential to a team’s success.

They’re the floor generals of the second unit. They create for themselves to score. They collapse defenses in order for the others to get opportunities.

In some cases, these players perform so well that they outgrow the role they provide and force their way into the starting five—on that same team or elsewhere. Just look at past examples: Darren Collison, Eric Bledsoe, Reggie Jackson, Dennis Schroder, etc. The list goes on.

Kyle Lowry was 20 years old when he was drafted late in the first round of the 2006 NBA Draft by the Memphis Grizzlies. He studied the position behind veteran guards Chucky Atkins and Damon “Mighty Mouse” Stoudamire.

But even after showing promise in his rookie season, management decided to take Mike Conley Jr. the very next year. Though the two were about even in playing time, it was clear the Grizzlies favored youth over anything else, so in 2009, Lowry was dealt with the Houston Rockets in a three-way trade at the deadline.

At this point, Lowry had started in only 30 games over two-and-a-half seasons, so the keys to the car weren’t ready for him just yet. Aaron Brooks was a unique talent that Rick Adelman loved to throw out there along with Tracy McGrady and Kevin Martin.

Brooks started all 82 games in the 2009-10 campaign and blossomed into a scoring machine. He was shooting the lights out that year, and because of that, it was tough to sit him. Lowry still took advantage of his playing time, though, with plenty of floor run. He averaged nearly 14 points and seven assists per 36 minutes.

To the misfortune of his teammate and the advantage to Lowry the next season, Brooks struggled mightily with the jump shot that made him so deadly. After 34 games, the Rockets moved him in a deal to Phoenix for Goran Dragic and a first-round pick. Dragic was on his way to carving his niche in the league, but it opened up a door for Lowry to really take hold as “quarterback” of the team.

Circumstances arose once again, however. Houston had let go of Adelman and hired Kevin McHale in June 2011. Lowry and his new head coach did not have the same rapport. He unfortunately suffered from a bacterial infection and missed out on the beginning of the season, and towards the end, the emergence of Dragic led to his demise.

That summer, the Rockets sent Lowry to the Toronto Raptors for Gary Forbes and a future first-rounder. Once again, it was a fresh start for him, but also a brand new team with a different head coach.

It didn’t take long for the man to realize his true potential there. Aside from shuffling a bit with Jose Calderon as the starter in Toronto, Lowry found a home. The jump he made between that season and the next one was impressive.

Lowry got paid after that 2013-14 season and re-signed with the Raptors for four years. He earned three All-Star appearances and—aside from the postseason disappointments—led the team to new heights with his fellow All-Star backcourt partner DeMar DeRozan.

Toronto and its star point guard agreed to a three-year, $100 million deal over the summer to keep him running the show and to honor that contract well as he has always had. But now there’s somebody behind Lowry waiting to break out, and could very well be the one who gets the torch passed to him.

Delon Wright is ready to make his mark. When he entered the league, he was a reserve behind Cory Joseph and had to observe and soak in the experience of NBA life. For some rookies, they get the chance immediately, and for the others, they have to wait their turn. In this case, it was the latter.

Playing the waiting game ended up working out well for him. In the offseason, the Raptors went out and traded Joseph for C.J. Miles due to the loss of DeMarre Carroll. It was a move that not only addressed a need for depth at the wing but also opened a door for Wright.

So here we are, two games in. The Raptors are 2-0 and have outscored their opponents by 51 points. In those combined, Wright has received 55 minutes of playing time.

Despite the competition being the rebuilding Chicago Bulls and a Philadelphia 76ers team trying to find an identity, he looks extremely comfortable. You don’t want to take too much out a sample size as small as that, but neither the numbers nor the eye test lies.

Wright has played the third-most minutes on the team thus far. He’s done a great job on both sides of the floor but has truly made a difference on the defensive end. As of now, the Raptors are only allowing 83 points per 100 possessions with him on the hardwood. When he’s not, that number blows up to 98.9 using the same scale.

Offensively he’s almost been just as good. Wright has been aggressive as a facilitator and as a shooter, putting up 13- and 14-point games early on. He dished out five assists in the season opener and nabbed five rebounds in the second game. He has a higher offensive rating than both Lowry and DeRozan.

According to NBA.com, Toronto’s net rating with him off the court (12.9) is the second lowest to his lifelong teammate Jakob Poeltl (12.8). Take it with a grain of salt because it’s one week into the season, but Wright has the best net rating in the league (37.6) among those playing at least 25 minutes per game.

Call it garbage time play or whatever you want: He has the tools to succeed. The stature is there. The intangibles are evident. It’s all about putting it together over the course of an entire season.

If the trend continues, there’s no way Casey can keep him off the floor for long. We don’t know where Wright’s career could go. It’s way too early to tell. The Raptors are likely hoping for him to be the successor after this era of basketball has come and gone.

Lowry is the man in Toronto, as is DeRozan. Nothing is changing that anytime soon. But rest assured, Wright’s primed to take a big step this year and it’s going to be fun to watch.

Continue Reading
Advertisement
Advertisement

Trending Now