Photo by Jonathan Bachman
For the record, there's probably no bigger fan of Julian Wright than yours truly. After all, he was one of the first Hornets to welcome me with open arms when I first started covering the team and let me document his off-court activities. Needless to say, seeing Wright ride the pine most of the season brings me no joy neither does saying that it may be the right move.
Anyone who's watched the Hornets in this early part of the season knows that the Hornets have struggled mightily with their bench play, as noted by the multiple times the second unit has blown double-digit leads built by the first-team offense. Part of the reason for this is because the Hornets' bench has so many young players and part of it is that Scott still has yet to find a rotation that he's comfortable with. Both factors have led to erractic and inconsistent play from the second team and, as much as it hurts to say it, Wright hasn't done much to help that this season.
Say what you will about Byron Scott's coaching methods, but he is not shy about not playing guys he doesn't have absolute confidence in. It happened last year with Rasual Butler, it's happening this year with Wright and (and to a greater extent, Mike James). It's also silly to dismiss this as Scott not wanting to play a young player; after all, look how he played Richard Jefferson back in New Jersey.
No question that Wright is a high-energy player that was a spark off the bench in his rookie season. But it seems that, for whatever reason (and there's no reason to think his ankle sprain isn't a part of it) Wright has noticably regressed this year. He hasn't been staying home on defenders, seems out of place on offense and, more often than not, has had to rely on his athleticism to make up for poor decision making.
So does this mean Wright was a wasted draft pick or should be traded? Absolutely not. After all, who could have predicted Rasual Butler would have the season he's having after being in Scott's doghouse all last season and then running into legal problems over the summer? Really, all the evidence seems to point that Wright's ankle injury cost him valuable experience in the pre-season and the Hornets slow start contributed to his regression. Now, with Butler, Morris Peterson, Devin Brown and James Posey contributing critical minutes, there just isn't space, or a need, for Wright to play.
There is a chance that Wright will lose confidence as a young player and he has admitted to being frustrated with his limited playing time. But Wright is an obvious talent and Scott isn't the type of coach to let that go to waste.
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