Last time the HQ stopped by the ACC via media access, they took some time to talk to Mr. Julian Wright...
In a season where so much has gone wrong for the Toronto Raptors, fans have been left searching for some positive signs, however small they may be.
Some, like the play of Ed Davis, and the development of Amir Johnson and DeMar DeRozan, loom fairly large. Others are smaller, but noteworthy nonetheless.
One such example is Julian Wright.
Many forget that Wright as a draft prospect was seen as a bit of a Boris Diaw, "do-it-all-on-the-court" type player, one who's multi-facet skills could be a huge boost to a club. However after failing to live up to his potential in New Orleans, was sent to the Raptors last off-season in exchange for Marco Belinelli.
While he didn't get many minutes at first, recently thanks to the myriad of injuries the team's faced, he's gotten his shot, and proven to be very effective in limited minutes, especially from a defensive perspective.
RaptorsHQ got a chance to catch up with the former Jayhawk recently, and spoke with him about his role on the club among other topics...
RaptorsHQ: So we're more than halfway through the season now, tell me what your thoughts are on joining this team?
Julian Wright: This organization is definitely committed to developing guys. Coming here from New Orleans, in about September, it was great to see the assistant coaches were here, working with all the players who were here early, trying to get an upstart on the season, and I think right now we're making strides, and trying to stay positive.
RHQ: Trying to stay healthy too!
JW: Yes, healthy as well.
RHQ: Have you ever been on a team that's been this injury-riddled before?
JW: Never (laughs.)
RHQ: So every game you must be looking around a bit like "who's in, who's out." Has it been tough from a mental standpoint in terms of being prepared when you never know how much or how little you're going to be playing?
JW: Oh yeah. I mean, we haven't been able to practice! And I'm pretty sure if we were healthy, we'd have enough bodies and enough energy to be able to get through practice, and apply some of that stuff to games.
RHQ: Give me an idea of practice. In the last month or so, how many bodies have you had realistically, on average?
JW: On average? Maybe seven or eight?
RHQ: Wow. That must make it pretty tough to go through sets and run plays...
JW: ...right. We'll probably just go through some offence and get shots up. Maybe do some 3-on-3's, and hopefully get some guys back into the swing of things. But the way our schedule is, and with injuries, it's tough.
RHQ: What about from a defensive standpoint, this team has really struggled if you look at the statistics. Has this team taken a different approach to defense then some of the other clubs that you've played for?
JW: Naaah, I would say, it's a few tweaks here and there, but most teams have similar principles. It's just a matter of having the reputation of guys, who play just as well at the defensive end as the offensive end. Chemistry is a key for both ends of the floor. And I'd say as well, not having a chance to practice can make it a little tough to fine-tune things on the defensive end.
RHQ: Do you find in games that there are certain situations, maybe a blown defensive possession on a pick-and-roll, where you think to yourself, "that would be something we would have corrected with more practice time," or is it simply a number of mental errors?
JW: I won't attribute everything to practice. One thing that doesn't lie is tape, and after every game, we watch a lot of tape. One thing that the coaching staff has been trying to stress in these sessions is accountability; regardless of if you play 3 minutes of the game or 30, you know, do things the right way. We're getting to that point I think collectively, we know we have to get stops, and that allows us...I mean, we're very capable of scoring the ball, the getting stops is the next step.
RHQ: What about you personally? I know a lot of fans have been clamoring for you to play more minutes, you seemed to have a positive impact, especially on the defensive end, as soon as you stepped on the court. Was it frustrating sometimes to be sitting on the bench feeling like you could be in there making positive contributions to the team?
JW: Aah...I would say in one aspect yes, but at the same time, given an opportunity, I would be able to make a positive impact. That's what I hang my hat on, that's what's gotten me into the league, being an all-around player, trying to make teammates better. That's all I try to do and if there's anything I've learned from this situation it's that you have to be positive and professional, and try to stay ready. You know I went from not playing, to playing spot minutes here and there, to a career high 41 minutes; you've gotta be ready for everything in this league.
RHQ: Thanks man, best of luck the rest of the way.