In the beginning of the 4th quarter as the Indiana Pacers began mounting a lead and gaining momentum, Coach Keith Smart probably made what fans thought was a “not Smart” substitution by throwing in little used and often forgotten PF Brandan Wright. Why B.Wright and not rookie PF Ekpe Udoh, the Warriors flavor of the month for his development on both sides of the ball? For sure, I thought with this substitution, Smart is waving the white flag or he is incredibly desperate.
Well it was clearly a stroke of genius as Brandan Wright offered some nifty play around the hoop on both ends, reaching for the sky on rebounds and flipping in layups in traffic. Marcus Thompson reports:
The Warriors also got surprising production from forward Brandan Wright, who had only played in 12 games all season, and hadn’t played in the previous three. He played 12 minutes, including during crunch time and finished with six points and four rebounds.
And here’s what Coach Keith Smart had to say about it (via Golden State of Mind via NBA.com):
“As I mentioned a couple of days ago, I don’t know who’s going to show up towards the end of our rotation. And today it was a guy that hasn’t played in about four or five games and Brandan Wright came in and did just what we needed to get done at that junction of the game. He came in and made some big plays on both sides of the ball and had some finishes around the basket. So that’s how our team is going to be as we keep pushing our rock a little bit up the hill.”
The Warriors' random rotation right now, highlighted recently by Smart’s preference for Reggie Williams for long stretches, has obviously worked in the win column but what kind of signal does it send to the team? Clearly wins matter more than anything and so long as the Warriors win, that should probably keep players content. But would Ekpe Udoh had been just as effective? And what do we make of B.Wright’s efforts?
It’s safe to say that B.Wright did what everyone knows he can do. He’s got a great knack for scoring within feet of the basket with a few flip shots and baby hooks. His length makes him difficult to guard and his five to 10 jump shots from the baseline are generally money. But the guy can never put together a consistent effort either due to injuries or just poor play on the defensive end. B.Wright’s contributions last night were great, but Warriors fans have been witness to this tantalizing, yet teasing play. Whether or not B.Wright has a future with the Warriors, great play like this will hopefully pique interest in other teams who may still see some untapped potential and will be interested in making a trade.