Wright Choice: Breaking Down the Heat’s Last Minute Playoff Addition
What Wright Means to Miami:
Dorell Wright was a core member of the Heat from 2004 to 2010. He was drafted 19th overall in 2004 directly out of high school. Wright only played 23 games during his first two seasons and 211 during his entire tenure in Miami. Even though he never made much of an impact on the court in a Heat uniform, he still holds a place directly in the heart of Heat Nation because of the 2006 championship team he was a part of.
Wright spent this season in China and averaged 24.3 points and 7.5 rebounds per game in 37 total games. His last stint in the NBA was for the Portland Trailblazers during the 2014-2015 season. After part one of his Heat career concluded, he spent two seasons in Golden State, one in Philadelphia, and two in Portland before taking his talents overseas to China.
Wright has never been more than an average player in his career. His best season was 2010-2011, when he was on the Golden State Warriors. He started all 82 games and averaged 16.4 points, 5.3 rebounds, 4.2 assists, and 1.5 steals in 38.4 minutes per game. Even though he started 82 games that season, he has only started 222 games out of 549 total games throughout his career.
Why This Move is Beneficial for the Heat:
This truly could not be a more perfect signing for the Heat. Wright is a prototypical three-and-D NBA player. The Heat is the 7th worst three-point shooting team in the league, so having Wright there to space the floor will give Dragic and Wade the ability to operate more freely in the lane. He is a 36.5% three-point shooter and shot 38% from beyond the arc with Portland a year ago. Teams know they cannot take his shooting abilities lightly, and I expect the Heat to use him considering they only have two legitimately talented outside shooters (Josh Richardson and Joe Johnson) on the roster.
Wright knows the system and personnel better than just about any incoming player would. He is very close with Dwyane Wade, Udonis Haslem, and Erik Spoelstra, and it is not difficult to make friends when you are on a team that consists of veterans like Amar’e Stoudemire, Joe Johnson, Luol Deng, and Chris Bosh. The Heat is known to be a very tightly-knit team, and adding another veteran to the roster will undoubtedly bolster this chemistry. Wright only played a total of 78 games under Spoelstra, but the system has been the same since his rookie season.
When Wright was asked about his comfort in the system, he responded with, “It’s different wording, but the same stuff, so it’s going to make it a lot easier for me. The terminology is not that hard. When I first got here at 18 and I couldn’t remember nothing. Now it’s pretty easy for me to remember it.”
How Wright Could and Should Be Used:
What I really expect Spoelstra to do is implement the lineup of Dragic, Richardson, Johnson, Wright, and Whiteside. Spo will allow Dragic and Whiteside to operate in the pick-and-roll and have Richardson, Johnson, and Wright spotting up and spacing the floor. This would mean that Wright would have to play power forward, but in today’s NBA, that’s not a huge deal. Whiteside would be able to protect the paint and clean up the glass, so lack of size would not hinder the Heat as much as anticipated.
I also expect Spoelstra to use the veteran in both of these scenarios: if Miami needs some quick three’s and if they need some major defensive stops in clutch moments. That’s exactly what veterans are for, so I predict that he will have the chance to make some eventful plays in big moments. There’s no chance Wright will get more than 10-15 minutes per night unless he proves otherwise, especially considering most teams slim their rotation down during the playoffs.
It’s a Small World:
Wright seems very excited and grateful to be back in Miami. He had a few NBA opportunities at the beginning of this season, but turned them down for more money and a better opportunity to make an impact on the basketball court. He did not want to end up being one of the last men off the bench, which is very understandable for an aging veteran like Wright. Wright also knew that China’s season is a lot shorter, so this would help him preserve his body and ultimately be able to make an impact on a playoff roster. His plan was to always wind up back in the NBA at the conclusion of the Chinese season, but he never expected to be back wearing a Heat uniform.
When asked what he can bring to this team, Wright stated, “Me knowing the system and these guys, and somebody that can go out there and provide shooting, defense, the things I bring. I can do that with this team. I fit in well with these guys, just being around them. I think I can really help out, whenever my chances come.”
I genuinely have a feeling that these chances will come. Pat Riley and Erik Spoelstra always seem to make the smart decision, and I do not think this will be any different. Wright provides Miami with two major aspects of the current NBA: three-point shooting and defense, both of which are especially essential during a playoff run.
This signing could actually have a much larger impact than people expect. Wright is another team-first veteran who will provide this roster with excellent defense and long-range shooting. It will not take long for him to adjust to his new role on the Heat because of his prior knowledge of the system and instant chemistry with teammates. Joe Johnson seemed to fit in seamlessly within the first week, and I expect the same out of Wright. Wright will not step in and get 32 minutes per game like Johnson did, but I certainly expect American Airlines Arena to absolutely erupt when Wright steps onto the court for his first game action.