You know when you're talking Chris Bosh Entourage cameos that it's getting pretty close to the real NBA off-season "dead-zone."
Luckily though the HQ has a staple of excellent NBA bloggers to lean on, something we've already done a few times this off-season. This morning, we talk to Rohan from SB Nation's New Orleans Hornets' blog, "At the Hive," as he answers three questions for us on Julian Wright, the newest member of the Dinos:
1) RaptorsHQ - Tell us a bit about Julian Wright - strengths, weaknesses etc, and how his career has developed as a Hornet.
At the Hive: Julian is one of those maddeningly inconsistent types. On a good night, he's really a do-it-all sort of player. He has a decent understanding of floor spacing, and movement into open areas comes naturally to him. I'm not sure how much motion Toronto runs, but he'd really fit well in a similar style of offense. This applies to the transition game too, where he's shown good ability to be both a creator and a finisher. Offensively, his biggest weakness is a tendency to turn the ball over. This results, more than anything, from what I like to call a "lack of gears." He'll either be going all out or not going at all; there's no middle ground. Offensively, this manifests itself as a tendency to dribble wildly towards the opposition, or to hang around the perimeter with the ball and not do anything with it. So while his off-the-ball game is solid, his on-the-ball game is really the source of most of his problems.
He showed signs of developing a mid-range game, about halfway through his sophomore year. Unfortunately, he shot a pathetic 22.7% from 10-15 feet last season. Again, I chalk this up to the inconsistency that's defined his career thus far. His shooting form, the arc on his shot, and the follow through will vary game to game, quarter to quarter even. I still do think he has the makings of a great shot (as damning as the 61% free throw shot and earlier midrange figure are), but any breath holding would not be advisable.
2) RHQ - When he was drafted out of college, there were a lot of Tim Thomas comparisons; perfect wing-man frame and athleticism, however many weren't sure if his fundamentals were good enough or if he would ever "get it." What's your take on this?
ATH: To be honest, I've never seen him compared to Thomas, though I certainly see the parallels now. Neither of those questions- fundamentals and "getting it"- have been adequately answered by Wright. His proclivity for turnovers is certainly fueled by questionable dribbling ability (never something a ball-handling forward wants to hear about himself). And granted I'm a little on the pessimistic side on Julian, but I'm not sure he ever will "get it." There are bells and whistles plenty about him- the athleticism, the leaping ability, the good court vision for a forward- but he just isn't fundamentally solid enough. (I'll make a football, sorry, soccer reference and call him the NBA's Benoit Assou-Ekotto. Well maybe the poor man's NBA Assou-Ekotto. Okay, now this is just a terrible reference. You're welcome, one person who was sort of beginning to get it but then sighed disgustedly as it rapidly fell apart).
3) RHQ: No worries, our readers love all sorts of analogies, from soccer to Star Trek. So a final question, lately Wright's talked about carving out a niche for himself as a lock-down defender type. Obviously Toronto desperately needs players of this ilk, can Wright be a stopper in the league and/or what role do you see him best suited for?
ATH: If there's one thing I think JuJu can certainly do, it's exactly that- become a lock down defender. As it stands, he's already pretty decent. Basketball Prospectus reports a .899 dMult (Defensive Multplier, explained here) for him last year, which, while not spectular, is quite solid. I'd corroborate this further, through Synergy Sports, but unfortunately my mediocre internet won't allow such extravagance. Either way, I wrote a little Synergy piece about the Hornets' defense back in May; a relevant quote about Wright: "It's also refreshing to see Julian Wright's numbers, especially given the awful offensive season he just had. Could he become this team's defensive stopper against elite offensive players? I've always thought so, and the numbers certainly say yes. Let's hope his defense can keep him on the floor long enough to see him make some strides forward offensively." So going off that, Synergy either likes him, or I don't know how to read. Let's go with the former, what?