Contra Costa Times
Article Launched: 02/25/2008
THERE IS A proverb that says, "A wise man knows he knows nothing at all."
The message is that those who truly possess wisdom understand that they don't know it all and are always learning.
Warriors coach Don Nelson is considered wise in the realm of basketball, and rightfully so considering he's a Hall of Fame finalist. But, though 67 years old and in his fourth decade in the NBA, Nelson can show true wisdom by playing rookie forward Brandan Wright. One of the obvious facts coming out of the Warriors' loss to the visiting Atlanta Hawks on Friday -- other than the importance of center Andris Biedrins -- was that Wright is good enough to contribute.
He had eight points on 4-for-4 shooting with eight rebounds and two blocks in a career-high 26 minutes against the Hawks. He showed more than just the potential the Warriors are banking on in the future. He showed he can be productive right now.
That means Nelson, who was pressed into playing Wright because of Biedrins' appendectomy and forward Stephen Jackson's sprained ankle, was wrong about Wright. This youngster should be playing.
"For the first time, he played considerable minutes and really did a nice job," Nelson said after Friday's disappointing loss. "He's been working hard, and I said all along we like him. I didn't know if he would be ready this year, but he may have proved me wrong. I think we maybe should start looking at him a little bit and see what he has to offer. Some of the things he does are
things that we need, with Biedrins being out he'll get a good chance to show us what he's learned this year."
Nelson is reputed for his lack of faith in rookies, inexperienced players in general. It makes sense, too. His system is predicated on decision-making, creative freedom and understanding of the game. Most rookies don't have such a quality.
But instead of waiting on Wright to develop such attributes, the Warriors may be better off with him learning on the job. Because it looks like what he brings outweighs what he doesn't.
Wright has played double-digit minutes six times this season and has shown he can produce when he gets a chance to stretch his legs. During those six games, Wright averaged 6.5 points on 55.6 percent shooting with 5.3 rebounds in 15.7 minutes.
"I've been ready the whole season to go out there and contribute," Wright said Friday.
Imagine if Wright had been getting game experience up to this point. Still, he can be the addition the Warriors need, the one player they couldn't get before the trade deadline.
He's 6-foot-9 with leaping ability -- he can certainly get in there and get some rebounds. He's only 20 years old, so he's got plenty of juice in those wiry legs. And, as he has shown with two Inspector Gadget dunks -- using those endless arms to throw it down unexpectedly -- he can be a spark off the bench.
And not just while Biedrins is out. Wright should be in the regular rotation, pulling at least 10 to 15 minutes a night. And not with the "second unit." Run him out there with Baron Davis, Monta Ellis and Jackson.
Seriously, what harm can he do? Sure, he may kick the ball around a few times. But Jackson does that a few times per game trying to execute his patented crossover dribble in traffic. Wright may even take some ill-advised shots. But he would certainly have some competition in that category. You can even expect a few silly mistakes. But certainly not as many as Mickael Pietrus and Matt Barnes have compiled.
It's not enough to start him, play him for seven minutes and then let him rot on the end of the bench. Nor is it enough to throw him out their with the clean up crew at the end of blowout games.
Nelson's track record has shown that he has little patience for the growing pains of his young players. But it's high time he stomachs a few to get Wright some action. That is, if he wants to be truly wise.
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