DALLAS — Harder. Better. Faster. Stronger.
Committing to an offseason of strength and conditioning that promises to have the 6-foot-10 big man at his best following his fifth NBA season, Dallas Mavericks center-forward Brandan Wright vows to return to the court a better player this upcoming season.
Following injury-plagued stints with Golden State and New Jersey, Wright began to tap into the skills and potential that made him the eighth overall pick by the Charlotte Bobcats before being sent to the Warriors in a draft-day deal back in 2007. Now, after two seasons with the Mavericks before re-signing this offseason, Wright hopes to lift his game to the next level, taking coach Rick Carlisle’s advice and returning a stronger player as he tries to help the Mavs get back to the playoffs.
“Well, first off, I’m very, very happy to be back here and playing in front of the best fans in the world,” Wright said while addressing the media and Mavericks fans during the team’s introductory press conference for its off-season signees earlier in the month.
He added: “But, throughout the whole free-agent process, I never really wanted to leave. You know, I can say I flirted around with other teams, but my heart was always to be here and to be a Dallas Maverick. And I was happy when I got that call from [Mavericks owner Mark Cuban], Coach [Carlisle] and [VP of basketball operations Donnie Nelson] as soon as the clock hit 12 o’clock for free agency. It really meant a lot to me, and I’m just excited to get this thing rolling again.”
Last season, while seeing the bulk of his time on the court as a backup center in Carlisle’s system, Wright averaged a career-high 8.5 points, 4.1 rebounds,1.2 blocks and 18.0 minutes per game while shooting 59.7 percent from the field, starting 16 of his 64 appearances. He’ll now try to elevate his game to another level, looking to secure the Mavs’ front line alongside 11-time All-Star power forward Dirk Nowitzki and newly-acquired center Samuel Dalembert.
More importantly, Wright will try to help the Mavericks get back to a high level as a team after missing the playoffs for the first time since 2000 following a 41-41 season. And it’s the sourness of last season’s struggles that seems to have Wright more focused than ever.
“That was a very disappointing and humbling experience,” Wright confessed while reminiscing over the Mavs’ up-and-down season. “You know, it stings just to be a part of that team that broke the 12-year streak. That was pretty bad and it was pretty embarrassing, but we kind of rallied at the end of the year and we played some better basketball. We let so many slip away. We’re just ready to get back out there. It’s pretty much a new team again, so we’re just going to have to come together real fast and see what happens.
“I just want to improve, man. It’s all about getting better. It’s all about progressing from the year before and the year before that. Just talking with Coach, the biggest thing he told me is we’ve got to raise it up another level, and that’s what I’m ready for. I’m ready for that challenge.”