Topping our list might be one of the least productive players youll find in this series in terms of what he did last year. So while he didnt quite have the type of freshman season that legends are made out of, watching extensive tape on him, studying his physical attributes and knowing what we know about the type of work ethic he has off the court, it wouldnt be a stretch to say that he has about as much NBA upside as any returning player in the NCAA.
Standing 6-8 or possibly 6-9 with a gigantic wingspan, a perfect frame and outstanding athletic ability, Wright is a prototype for the matchup from hell combo forward that has become so popular these days, a la Boris Diaw
or Andrei Kirilenko
. He has a fantastic first step, is quick off his feet, possesses superb body control, and has the type of instinctive basketball reflexes that just cannot be taught. Unlike many athletic marvels, he does not seem to be afraid of using his physical tools either, showing great toughness and the awareness and determination to put himself in the right spots to make a big play. To complete an already superb package, were talking about a very smart player who works for the team and looks fully committed to doing all the little things.
Offensively, Wright shows great sparks of potential, but really hasnt developed a consistent way to put points on the board. Most of his points came from cuts to the basket, where he utilizes his athleticism and phenomenal hands to catch virtually everything that is thrown his way and usually finish strong. He moves off the ball intelligently and presents himself well around the basket for easy finishes.
He looks fairly comfortable operating on the perimeter as well, where he likes to bait the bigger power forward matchups he typically draws to defend his inconsistent jump-shot before utilizing an excellent first step to just blow by his man. His ball-handling skills could still use some polish, but hes surprisingly adept at freelancing off the dribble and showed some fancy stuff in terms of creating his own shot from time to time last season. He usually creates in order to get to the basket and finish from close range thanks to his excellent body control, but he also shows signs of a mid-range pull-up game. He didnt get too many chances to show off his ball-handling skills, but when he did, he usually looked pretty good when he was being aggressive and wasnt trying to get too flashy with no-look passes and such. As a freshman, his passing skills were not quite as evident as they were in high school where he was considered a Scottie Pippen
point forward type, but he did show some really nice sparks from time to time in this area, particularly towards the end of the season.
Wright has some finesse to his game, but he also doesnt have a problem getting down and dirty when the situation calls for it. As a rebounder, he shows nice timing and lets his terrific hands and physical tools do the rest, particularly on the offensive glass. Defensively, he has the length, smarts and quickness to really bother his opponents, coming up with a fair share of blocks and steals in the process.
His jump-shot might be considered one of his biggest weaknesses at the moment, besides his overall lack of polish. He lacks serious range on his jumper even though his mechanics are not bad. Working on getting his shot off quicker and utilizing his athleticism better to elevate off the floor will certainly make him a more versatile offensive threat. Like some of the NBA players we compared him to earlier, Wright is somewhat of a 3 and a half at the moment, not having the strength any of the post skills youd expect from a power forward, but not being a consistent enough perimeter threat to be considered a true small forward either. The biggest question is whether hell actually be allowed to play that position this season at Kansas, as their top returning scorer Brandon Rush
cant really play any other position and they might need Wrights help in the post now that CJ Giles has been dismissed. On top of that, Wright isnt the most aggressive or naturally talented offensive player youll find, so its not a give in that he puts up the type of numbers youd typically expect from a top 10 pick on such a stacked Kansas team.
From what Wright says, though, none of that matters in the short-term anyway. He stated on multiple occasions over the summer that he will be staying at least three years at Kansas in order to leave the school with his degree, meaning he wouldnt be in the draft till 2008. Its hard not to be a bit skeptical when a top prospect makes that kind of decision this early, but it wouldnt be unheard of, a la the 2006 Florida Gators.