Brandan Wright’s Incredible Shrinking Rebounding NumbersFiled under: News; Tagged as: Andris Biedrins, Anthony Randolph, Brandan Wright, Chris Wilcox, Corey Maggette, Desmond Mason, Don Nelson, Earl Watson, Greg Oden, Jamal Crawford, Jeff Green, Kelenna Azubuike, Kevin Durant, Marco Belinelli, Robert Swift, Ronny Turiaf, Russell Westbrook, Stephen Jackson
By Geoff Lepper
Warriors forward Brandan Wright is 6-foot-10 and endowed with a 7-foot-3 3/4 wingspan that was just a half-inch short of matching that of the No. 1 pick in his draft class, Greg Oden.
So why is it that Wright can’t seem to put those tools to use fixing the Warriors’ recurring problems on the defensive glass?
I wrote a couple of weeks ago about the Warriors’ historically bad defensive rebounding rate (they’re on pace to post the league’s worst DRR since the 1999-2000 Mavericks) and Golden State has barely ticked the meter in seven games since then, upping their mark from 67.0 to 67.1 percent.
There has been some interesting individual movement, however, as charted here:
Marco Belinelli’s minus-1.8 drop is fairly staggering, but the most distressing item, if you’re a Warriors fan, a Warriors coach or, say, a second-year Warriors forward out of North Carolina, is the erosion of Wright’s defensive rebounding. He now ranks behind Ronny Turiaf (not a huge problem, given Ronny’s improvement of late) and even Corey Maggette, which is a blazing, 40-by-40-foot red flag, given how badly Maggette fared on the boards on his one healthy leg.
Shockingly, according to data at 82games.com, the Warriors are 4.1 percent worse at defensive rebounding with Wright on the floor (63.1 to 67.2). The only guy on the team with a worse differential than that is Turiaf (62.9 to 67.6).
The problem came back into focus after the Warriors were ripped yet again by opposing rebounders — this time for 14 offensive boards and 25 second-chance points by Oklahoma City a 107-100 victory Wednesday for the NBA’s worst team.
Jeff Green had five offensive boards, and Chris Wilcox had four. Wright, meanwhile, had just three defensive rebounds, and while part of that was due to a disparity in minutes — Green played 43:47, Wilcox 36:01 and Wright 19:58 — that’s not the whole story.
Here’s a collection of observations on the wrongs of Wright’s rebounding against OKC:
1, 11:17: Wright doesn’t get credit for one, but it sure looks like he blocks Green. In any case, the miss ticks off Wright’s right hand, although it’s eventually scooped up by Belinelli.
1, 10:08: Kevin Durant beats Belinelli to the R baseline, requiring Andris Biedrins to rotate over and close off the lane. When Biedrins leaves his man, Robert Swift, Wright is stationed about 10 feet from the hoop, looking over his left shoulder at the unfolding play while reaching out with his right hand to keep track of his cover, Green. Wright stays with Green, either by choice or by simply not recognizing that doing so allows Swift to walk in from the L baseline and tap home Durant’s miss.
1, 9:31: Desmond Mason back-irons a fading 15-footer from the L elbow. Wright elevates between two teammates to take the rebound with no Thunder pressuring the play.
1, 8:43: Russell Westbrook blows by Jamal Crawford then feeds Mason, who had cut past a completely inattentive Stephen Jackson on the right baseline. Mason’s reverse layup from the left side rims out and Wright, with Green hanging out at the 3-point arc, is free to go up and collect the easy board.
1, 6:53: Mason airballs a 19-footer under duress from Belinelli and Crawford catches it in mid-air. With Green again trolling the 3-point line, Wright plants himself in the lane. That said, Wright winds up a little closer to the hoop than he probably should, since he has his area well-covered and every step further in he takes at that point just increases the potential for a long board over his head to Green. (This becomes important later on.)
2, 7:27: Fresh off the bench, Wright provides good help to stop Wilcox’s drive on the left baseline. Ronny Turiaf recovers and slaps the shot off the backboard. Wright should have the ensuing rebound, but while he’s trying to corral it on the bounce, Westbrook gets a hand on the ball, which winds up going out of bounds off Wright for another Oklahoma City possession. The Thunder cash in with a jumper by Earl Watson.
2, 3:22: Watson misses a running right hook 6 feet out on the left side of the lane. Since Biedrins went to contest the shot, it’s up to Wright to outfight Wilcox for the board. Wright has the edge, but once again can’t control the ball, which bounces off his hands and fortuitously lands in Jackson’s instead.
2, 2:02: Watson misses a pullup J from 19 feet. But both Biedrins and Wright are heading to the rim when the shot, well short, clanks hard off the front iron and goes over their head to Wilcox, who pump fakes and blows by Biedrins for the layup.
2, 1:37: Wilcox biffs an open layup. Wright taps the ball off the rim, but when he tries to control it, Wilcox bats it away. The ball winds up going to Jackson.
3, 9:20: Durant misses a pullup 17 feet R wing. Wright has Green easily boxed out on the strong side, and when Durant’s shot comes back out on the R block, Wright has another unpressured board.
I know it’s a cliché to say that great rebounders latch onto a ball and never let go, but cliché’s are often just over-used truths. And that’s why the most concerning thing here is the number of times — four, in less than 20 minutes — Wright got a hand on the ball but was not able to come up with full possession. All the athleticism in the world doesn’t do you any good if you can’t close out the deal and finish a defensive stop for your team.
The Lineup Project
As bad as Wright’s rebounding was, the Warriors were still worse off without him on the floor, which was prompted in part because of Wright’s foul trouble (two in the first quarter, two more just 3:12 into the third period). Wright’s absence was all the more keenly felt because Don Nelson appears to have lost faith in Anthony Randolph after the rookie had two horrible turnovers in the first quarter against the Lakers. Since then, we haven’t seen him play a minute that mattered (he did come back for garbage time in Staples).
That left Nellie without many options, and he chose Kelenna Azubuike as his power forward for more than half the game (24:23) rather than use Turiaf there. Turiaf did make a cameo appearance at the 4, starting the fourth quarter up front with Biedrins, but that stint lasted less than 2 1/2 minutes — and Azubuike manned that spot the rest of the way.
18 Responses to “Brandan Wright’s Incredible Shrinking Rebounding Numbers”
Wright was a mediocre rebounder for a PF in college as well, so there doesn’t seem much hope that he’ll be an above average rebounder.
This is the problem with our three man big man rotation - only Biedrins is a far above average rebounder; Turiaf and Wright are worse than average rebounding bigs (Despite their other advantages).
Since we also play Stephen Jackson and Jamal Crawford, two horrid rebounders at the 2/3 (even worse when Jack plays the 4), the problem is compounded and the results are, well, what we’ve seen.
Randolph has shown solid rebounding figures, but the rest of his game is quite far behind.
There are no solutions on the roster given that we’ve cut Richard Hendrix, so the only alternative is a trade.
I’ve repeatedly said we should have taken Joakim Noah instead of Wright, since he’s a legit rebounder but also has other skills useful to a free flowing offense. Thus far seems like he’s in the doghouse in Chicago, so a swap of Randolph or Wright for Noah would be one opportunity to add a big that can actually address one of our most glaring needs.
The other young big “available” is Sean Williams, and he’s been a crappy rebounding big man as well, so he solves nothing.
Despite Wright’s poor rebounding, I still think he should have played more down the stretch, as our perimeter players (Watson, Azubuike) were incapable of stopping penetration. A shotblocker might have at erased some of those mistakes. Some inside buckets wouldn’t have hurt either.
I don’t care about the individual rebounding stats. You look at Ronny and BWright stats and they aren’t impressive. But the fact is our TEAM rebounds much better when they are at PF. That is what matters.
commish January 2nd, 2009 at 8:43 am
Hey Bob, that is what I was thinking. Isn’t that Geoff’s theme of saying our team does significantly better when we play “big” versus medium or small? I assume we do better for two reasons: first, the personnel on the floor doesn’tt take as many bad outside shots long before our defenders are close to the basket to be in position to get a rebound; and two, our players are simply taller which increases our rebounding chances.
So when Geoff posted this, i did not see an analysis as much as data crunching. I wasn’t sure what it meant other than as a statistical fact. I also think that is why Jon likes the idea of Ronny playing PF rather than backup center. It just amazes me (for the lack of a better word) why we are not developing defensive schemes and team chemistry based on having a minimum of two and hopefully three “bigs” on the floor at the same time.
Son of Ahmed January 2nd, 2009 at 10:09 am
This was another important analysis by Geoff. Wright is a poor rebounder, and his many missed opportunities are becoming more and more apparent as he gets more time on the floor. I think it all comes down to strength. The effort is there, but the power is not. He can’t hold a strong position down low. Most of his boards come from the weak side or from long caroms. His rebounds under the basket seem to occur when his defender leaves to help.
If Wright wants to establish himself as a long term starting power forward in the league, he’ll have to become a stronger rebounder. I’ve noticed that he is a little stronger this season than last. That’s not saying much, but any progression in terms of strength is a plus for Wright.
I echo Bob and commish’s feelings about Wright’s impact on the game. When Wright is in the game versus a wing or guard, the team seems to do better. Definitely we saw this in the Thunder game.
Nelson could have played Wright more in the third and fourth quarters. Guys play through four fouls all the time.
There’s more to talk about on this subject…
Nice game analysis. I think the lack of rebounding support and the absence of a shooter at the 4 is really taking its effect on Bedrins. He gets roughed up pretty well nightly and to make most of the Warriors play go smoothly enough he has to be both faster and more precise than he is.
The lineup project has this ideological bent (I’ll show you) that makes it far less interesting than this game analysis. I am glad you put it at the end. I can skip that part and still think of you as open-minded.
But the Wright analysis was most welcome.
Talk about half the story… this article only glorifies individual rebounding… at what point does the staff take any accountability for our post men’s complete and total flatlining as prospects?
BW seals out his man, or attempts to, on every play… he’s been surrounded by lesser competition (HS) or amazing rebounders (Hansborough/D.Thompson/rest of UNC) since becoming a pro… he’s never had to be the aggressive one, or on a team that desperately needed him to board. Assuming he would just step in and be good at it is folly…
So when are the W’s coaches going to get Brandan to stop always boxing out and start attacking the boards? Using his length and quicks to tip the ball to himself like AR does? When I see a problem like this, the coaches are to blame… its not that BW performing awfully, he’s just not doing the correct thing on the court for the team, ever.
And at some point, that becomes the responsibility of the coaches to beat that into him. Stop boxing out and start rebounding like the rest of the W’s do - using their athleticism to tip to themselves or each other…
21-20 rebound advantage when Wright was in
25-14 rebound disadvantage when Wright was out
If you legitimately think Turiaf’s rebounding is better than Wright’s… I dunno what to say. Turiaf is abysmal.
Joe.Sez January 2nd, 2009 at 3:20 pm
“…we should have taken Joakim Noah instead of Wright, since he’s a legit rebounder but also has other skills useful to a free flowing offense. Thus far seems like he’s in the doghouse in Chicago, so a swap of Randolph or Wright for Noah would be one opportunity to add a big that can actually address one of our most glaring needs.”
Noah is in the dog house b/c he likes to Par-T and admits he isn’t in shape to play. He basically blew off the off-season and tried to play himself into shape like Shaq.
He doesn’t pay attention (or is ADD) during practice so he’s also hard to coach and he isn’t an offensive player. He’s got a bad shot.
Nellie would start Noah alongside Williams - deep in the bench.
I bet the GSW and Bulls are involved in a trade before the deadline. The GSW are imploding and Chicago’s going nowhere with too many duplicate pieces.
Geoff Lepper January 2nd, 2009 at 3:36 pm
First off: Yes, Brandan Wright should have played more down the stretch. I have no problem with pulling him early in the third after he picked up foul No. 4, but to not bring him back in the fourth was a flat-out mistake on Nelson’s part.
Bob: 82games.com disagrees with you (and with what I had previously thought, which surprised me). According to the data, the Warriors are collecting fewer of the opposition’s missed shots, on a percentage basis, with Wright on the floor (63.1 percent) than without (67.2). And that 4.1 negative differential is larger than everybody else on the roster, other than Ronny Turiaf and Marcus Williams.
I still think they’re a better team with Wright on the floor than Maggette or Azubuike at the 4 because Wright is one of the team’s most efficient offensive players (although those numbers are trending down slightly as his playing time goes up) and I think his defensive presence is more helpful than that of Maggette (all the time) or Azubuike (mostly).
But Wright would force the issue if he would become a better defensive rebounder, IMHO. And the easiest way to do that is by solving his problem of letting balls he gets a hand on get away from him — assuming that’s possible.
M.Squared January 2nd, 2009 at 3:56 pm
I think the Ws are better with Wright on the floor as opposed to playing small too.
Unless Wright is being added into a multi-player deal to get an established vet/star- it is way to early to throw in the towel on him. He is essentailly a rookie and rebounding can be taught. The Warriors coaching staff is historically known as one that does not know how to teach big men. Wright brings a lot of positives to the game and can eventually become a solid player.
Noah has been handed the starting job more than once and and blown it. On top of that his attitude sucks. He’s a whiner and hasn’t gained an ounce of strenght since he landed in the NBA. In fact- it could be argued that he hasnt progressed any since being drafted.
The only problem with Wright is that he hasn’t played enough and has been jerked around.
A lot of people were pretty harsh on Beidrens up until the start of his 3rd year in the league and he came around.
Why hasnt Larry Smith been brought in to work with these guys yet?
Son of Ahmed January 2nd, 2009 at 4:42 pm
Re: “And the easiest way to do that is by solving his problem of letting balls he gets a hand on get away from him — assuming that’s possible.”
I’ve heard Wright has small hands. I don’t know if that hinders him grabbing the ball. Maybe he needs to borrow some of the stick ‘em that AB has on his hands.
Geoff Lepper January 2nd, 2009 at 4:45 pm
SOA: I’m sure it does, assuming that it is the case. I’ve seen Steinmetz mention it. I can’t say Wright’s hands struck me as being tiny — certainly they’re significantly larger than mine — but it would be interesting to measure prospects’ hands, as Matt suggests.
Nigel Tufnel January 2nd, 2009 at 4:58 pm
Good analysis, but I have to think that Wright may have been being too cautious because of the foul trouble (in this game, but that applies to many of his games). Unless you are Yao or Shaq, you can’t rebound without being aggressive about it, and aggression will cause more fouls with a young player like Wright (both because he’s inexperienced and doesn’t have name recognition status from the officials yet). I agree that Wright can be and should be a better rebounder, and clearly he makes defensive mistakes. But he generally makes smart decisions on offense and as bad as his D might be, who is better on this team? Almost everyone on the Warriors is downright dreadful defensively. At least Wright is always a blocking threat. We see opponents constantly walk right down the lane unmolested against every Warrior, and outside they rarely close on or bother shooters. You can criticize Wright, but this team is packed full of just horrible, lazy defenders.
Wright’s individual rebounding rates were better last year and the disparity between on/off court not so bad. That suggests a potentially bad trend: worse with more playing time! But he was and is head and shoulders above the Nellie alternatives like Matt Barnes and Mickael Pietrus.
Harrington was better.
But these rebounding trends are far from terrible, especially considering the Warriors’ dead-last DRR endemic. There’s a systemic issue here, as well as a teachng issue that the old timers are more than willing to blame on Wright. Whatever, we’re back to fulltime NellieBall no matter what.
It’s all moot. Wright is gone and Kurz is in in Minnesota.
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