HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS – When the credits rolled on the wild and crazy Summer of 2010, the names Dorrell Wright and Hakim Warrick were barely legible compared to the bold type afforded guys like LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, Chris Bosh, Amar’e Stoudemire, Carlos Boozer, Joe Johnson, David Lee and many others.
Yet when the midseason report cards get handed out, both Wright and Warrick will be on the honor roll.
While some of the more high-profile movers from the summer are still trying to settle into their new digs, Wright (in Golden State) and Warrick (Phoenix) have made seamless transitions with their new teams.
It’s clearly a case of the right player being in the right place at just the right time. The 19th pick in their respective drafts (Wright in 2004 and Warrick in 2005), neither player had found the right fit, until now. And their new teams are reaping the rewards of these unions in ways their former teams wish they could.
The Warriors uncovered a true gem in Wright, a prototypical small forward who can defend on one end and more than hold his own on the other end with dynamic scorers like Monta Ellis and Steph Curry dictating the pace and tempo. It’s a totally different look for Wright, who was used primarily as a defensive specialist in Miami, if he was used at all.
A casualty of the Heat’s huge summer haul, Wright’s career numbers (15.0 points, 5.4 rebounds, 2.9 assists and 37.6 minutes) must look pretty good to a Heat team scrambling right now to find solid role players to complement James, Wade and Bosh. Wright spent six seasons with the Heat, the team that drafted him, but never could find his niche playing alongside Wade.
The Warriors have tossed around Stephen Jackson‘s name when discussing Wright’s overall impact on his new team. The Warriors are 7-4 and one of the early surprises in the league this season, due in no small part to the contributions of newcomers like Lee and Wright.
And as good fit as he’s been on the court, Wright wasted no time making himself at home in the Bay Area:
Warrick will get his crack at Wright’s old team tonight when the Suns take their talents to South Beach to face the Heat (7 p.m. ET on ESPN). If he plays anything like he has up to this point, the Heat will be hard pressed to slow him down.
All Warrick did was join what is arguably the deepest and best bench in the league and become one of its most unstoppable forces. He too is putting up career scoring numbers (13.1while shooting an outrageous .634 from the field), his best since his second season in Memphis. He’s the Suns’ third leading scorer behind Jason Richardson and Nash and is also playing consistent minutes for the first time in three years.
Before he landed in Phoenix, Warrick had been shipped about the league last season. After four up-and-down seasons in Memphis, Warrick signed with the Bucks last summer and saw his minutes (and his role) fluctuate wildly under Scott Skiles. He was then sent to Chicago in a deadline-day deal for John Salmons deal and, in the summer, Chicago shipped Warrick to Phoenix via a sign-and-trade deal that let them clear room to sign Boozer.
While he’s not nearly as devastating on the receiving end of Steve Nash passes as Stoudemire was in Phoenix, he does bring an above-the-rim element to the Suns’ game that disappeared momentarily when Stoudemire bolted for New York’s millions in free agency. And it always helps to play in a system that caters to your skills, one that employs guards like Nash and Goran Dragic.
“In our system, he’s finding himself,” Suns coach Alvin Gentry said of Warrick to the Arizona Republic. “He’s probably the best roller we have right now. He’s just got to get a bit stronger and be able to step out and hit a 15-foot jump shot and be consistent with that.”
It’s clear both Warrick and Wright have to appreciate their new digs.
“Steve and Goran are doing a great job of feeding me and putting me in great positions where all I have to do is go out there and finish,” Warrick said. “I just try to be aggressive and continue to attack the rim … I’ve been watching and seeing Steve spoon-feeding guys. Knowing I was coming here, I couldn’t wait to get spoon-fed. It makes my job so much easier. If you think you’re open, you know he’s going to find you.”
Being on the right team, in the right place at the right time has a way of making that happen.