DALLAS – The goal for Brandan Wright is to build on the terrific six-week stretch at the end of last season that essentially earned him a two-year, $10 million contract.
The best way for him to do that? Offseason bodybuilding.
Wright might never have the chiseled physique of Dwight Howard, but the lanky 6-foot-10 lefty reported to training camp noticeably thicker. Wright said he added 15 pounds since last season through an intense weightlifting program and strict diet.
“I wanted to be able to take more of a pounding, be able to hold up against the bigger guys in the West, so I had to do things to be able to withstand a long 82-game season,” said Wright, who is still listed at his rookie weight of 210 pounds but weighed in at 240. “I’m faster, bigger and stronger. I think the biggest change is I’ve seen is stamina-wise and I can move laterally better.”
Wright drifted in and out of the Mavs’ rotation during the first two seasons in Dallas, in large part because his slender frame made it difficult for him to fight for defensive and rebounding position. However, he’s almost always put up good numbers when he got consistent playing time.
Ideally, Wright will resume the role he had down the stretch last season, when he was the primary backup center and played spot minutes at power forward. He averaged 11.2 points, 5.7 rebounds and 1.7 blocks in 24 minutes per game to help the Mavs finish on a 15-8 run to get to .500.
Wright’s offensive game meshes well with Dirk Nowitzki, whose shooting ability creates space for Wright to take advantage of his athleticism and soft touch around the rim by cutting and slashing into the paint. Wright has been an extremely efficient scorer off the bench, shooting better than 60 percent from the floor during his two seasons as a Dallas reclamation project.
Wright has worked to become a more versatile offensive weapon by increasing the range on his jump shot.
“He’s gotten to where he can shoot it at 17, 18 feet now,” coach Rick Carlisle said. “When we got him two years ago, he was a 12-, 13-foot shooter and a lot of them were floaters and hook shots and runners and things like that. Now he’s stepping out and facing up and he can knock in those midrange shots, and that really helps.”
Added Wright: “The biggest thing is to just keep knocking down the jump shot. The more I expand that, the more valuable I’ll be to this team and the more versatile I can be. I can use my quickness to my advantage, especially when big guys have to step out.”
Wright has put in the work to be able to bang with big guys in the paint and draw them out to the perimeter. The payoff should be a permanent and prominent spot in the Mavs’ rotation this season.