Wright is a productive and extremely talented NCAA player who possesses all the physical tools and skills you look for in an NBA shooting guard.
Wright is an outstanding athlete with some serious bounce in his step and a prototypical body for an NBA wing. He has great size at 6-7 and a pretty nice frame that shouldn't have a problem taking on some more weight. His wingspan appears to be above average as well. His first step is pretty explosive and his overall speed in the open court is excellent. Wright has all the fluid tools needed to get to the hoop, and once he's there he is quick off his feet with the ability to hang in the air and finish creatively around the basket, thanks to some very nice body control. There are probably more impressive dunkers than Wright in this draft, but he certainly would hold his own if David Stern decided to organize a dunk contest on draft night.
Offensively, Wright is a true talent and can score in many different ways. His athletic ability makes him an outstanding slashing threat, but what makes him truly unique and dangerous is how he combines that with a deadly perimeter shot. His stroke is beautiful, with nice mechanics, and he hits it at a very accurate clip (about 45% on a large number of attempts). He can shoot it with a man in his face or off the dribble, and he uses just the threat of shooting very nicely as a decoy to catch his man off balance with a head or shot fake and drive towards the lane. He loves to put the ball on the floor and pull-up from the mid-range area (NBA style), usually from 14-16 feet out, and is pretty accurate from here as well. His shot selection is outstanding, as you may have guessed by the fact that despite the fact that he's a star on a small team, he shoots slightly over 50% from the field.
If his shot isn't there, Wright has absolutely no problem giving the ball up to the open man and will never be the one who stops the ball movement. He is extremely unselfish (to a fault at times) and has very nice passing skills from both static position and on the drive and dish.
Defensively, Wright does not play the game like you would expect such a talented offensive star player to. He is not afraid of getting into an aggressive defensive stance, and can be a very pesky defender with his disruptive length and lateral quickness. His athleticism and wingspan have made him a very good ball-thief and shot blocker at the NCAA level, and he has shown good instincts in the passing lanes at times to come up with steals and ignite the break. Even though he isn't the most effective defender in the draft at this point, he rarely takes off possessions and generally gives 100% effort in almost everything he does on the court.
Considering all the raw tools mentioned above, it wouldn't be a stretch to say that Wright has some serious upside. He has the body, the athleticism, the skills, and what appears to be the mental approach to bring it all together, if the light bulb has indeed come on for him the way it looked like it had all season long.
Wright is a player with a lot of talent, but he's had serious problems taking full advantage of it throughout his career. The biggest thing you would like to see out of him is more of a commitment to using his athletic ability to put the ball on the floor and take it all the way to the basket, even if that involves drawing contact. He seems to have a problem taking the ball strong to the hoop and getting to the line, usually preferring the lower percentage pull-up jumper instead. He only averaged two and a half free throw makes a game over the season, which is simply an unacceptable number for a player with his gifts who plays for a team that needs him to shoulder a large amount of the offensive load.
Part of this might be due to the fact that he lacks some upper body strength to get to the basket and finish strong, especially in traffic, but probably more of this is related to the reputation that Wright has developed for being a soft player who does not like to take contact. He drifts out on the perimeter way too much, and his off the ball movement appears to be just average. Often he will just camp out behind the three point line and wait for the ball to come to him, instead of moving around and making things happen.
The worst thing you could say about Wright is that he appears to be content being a role player. He is way too unselfish at times for a player of his caliber and will too often pass up a good shot in order to set up one of his less talented teammates. A few times this year his team could have really used his scoring ability at the end of games, but Wright was nowhere to be found, not making much of an effort to get the ball in his hands in the clutch. He has all the tools in the world, he just needs to become more assertive to take advantage of them and truly reach his full potential as a player.
His ball-handling has always been considered a weakness of his, but he has improved dramatically over the past three years to the point that this isn't a major concern as long as he continues to work hard.
Defensively, Wright has started to put in a lot of effort this season on this end of the court, but this is not a light bulb that you can just switch on and off. His footwork on the perimeter is not very good at this point, and it's not rare to see him getting caught out of position on rotations and having problems fighting through screens. He has shown some potential in this area, though, especially in the intensity department, and possesses more than enough in terms of his physical tools, so it wouldn't be a surprise to eventually see Wright become an above average defender if he continues to add strength and remain dedicated to this part of his game.
Despite having a great stroke from the field and from behind the arc, Wright's free throw shooting is uncharacteristically low, sitting at 69% on the year.
After a horrendous season last year, Wright was seen by many as a lazy, selfish, apathetic player who is on the verge of completely falling off the radar if he doesn't take himself into his own hands sooner or later. Not only did he do that, he completely turned himself around 180 degrees, to the point that you could try and find faults in him all season long (and boy did I try) but there is simply nothing to be found. There is no doubt that he has matured tremendously over the past year, finally commiting himself to becoming an all-around player and displaying an excellent attitude towards his team and the game. The only inevitable question is now, will he go back to his old self once he gets that first huge contract? That's a question that probably needs to be asked by a team investing a couple of million dollars in him.
Wright was a top 20 recruit (or so) coming out of high school, one of the most sought after players in the nation who was recruited by schools like Arizona, Connecticut, Maryland, North Carolina and UCLA. He was far and away the most highly touted recruit to ever step foot in College Station, but his three years have been somewhat of a rollercoaster ride for him and his fans.
Wright had a very nice freshman season, helping his team to a couple of big wins and winning the Big 12 freshman of the year award himself. Things went downhill big time for Wright and A&M in his sophomore year, though. They only managed to scrape together 7 wins all year, finishing off the year with 17 straight losses and no wins in the Big 12. Wright's production fell off dramatically, and so did his draft stock. A&M's coach was fired (much to the initial dismay of Wright who threatened to transfer) and a new and very promising young coach in Billy Gillespie was brought in from UTEP to turn things around. The Aggies had one of their best seasons of all time with 21 wins and 10 losses, and may have had a chance at making the tournament had they scheduled a better out of conference schedule. Wright was clicking on all cylinders all season long for the most part, establishing himself as the best shooting guard in the country amongst the hardcore college basketball junkies who went out of their way to see him. Besides Wright, all of the credit goes to Coach Gillespie for helping him realize exactly the type of player he is, getting him to buy into the system, and helping him earn himself a couple of million dollars in the process. Coach Gillespie probably deserves a cut, he was just that important to the process.
Wright has declared himself eligible for the draft and has said that he will not hire an agent unless he is guaranteed of a satisfactory projection as far as he is concerned. He told the Associated Press: "If I can't be a high pick, I'll be back next year," he said in a statement. "If I am a high pick, I'll be living a lifelong dream."
"I have grown to love this university and what it has done to help me grow as a basketball player and more importantly as a person," he said. "That made my decision extremely hard."
As of right now no one ranks Wright as highly as we do, as the #2 shooting guard prospect in this draft and as a potential late lottery selection. Once workouts start and Wright begins to show people what they might have been missing out on all year, you can expect that to change. With so many teams looking for shooting guards in this draft and so few legit prospects to fill that, look for his stock to rise consistently as we get closer and closer to the draft.
In a draft like this where there are so many potential lottery picks that are role players trying to show that they can be stars, Wright is clearly an example of a star trying to show that he can be a role player. If he can find the medium ground between these two approaches, watch out. If he can play at the level he did in his junior season, he should be fine, but definitely not a star or an important player at the NBA level. Regardless, someone is going to take a shot at him in the first round, and it's more likely to be early rather than late.