As our summer mainstay, Aaron was writing a 370-part series discussing almost every notable player who was -- as of last season -- getting minutes in the NBA. As the summer dies down and the leaves turn, this quixotic quest of a series has happily reached the last third. But it's certainly not done yet! Today we continue with Brandon Rush, Dominic McGuire, and Chris Wright.
Yet another Mount Zion Christian Academy product, Brandon Rush attended the same Durham prep school attended by Amare Stoudemire, Tracy McGrady, Marquis Daniels, and John Wall. He went to college at the University of Kansas under Bill Self, a key member of the 2008 Kansas title team that outfoxed Calipari's last great vacated team. Sort of ridiculous to remember, as I always think "seasoned vet" when I watch him, but Rush is just a 5th year player -- he was an exceedingly minor piece in the Pacers' scheme for 3 seasons until finally finding a reasonably open role in Marc Jackson's Golden State system last year. Being featured in the offense a bit more and given a bit more room to show his skills, he acquitted himself admirably well -- he ended the season with by far the best offensive numbers of his career, and while his defense was really nothing to write home about, he wasn't exactly Jose Calderon on that end. He stuck with guys, and he worked his tail off. He wasn't bad. Several Warriors fans I know are intensely obsessed with the idea that Rush was an amazing defender, and good Lord, no he wasn't. He was easy to pin on screens and he was a bit too much of a ballhawk without the requisite quickness to make up for it. But he put in the effort and on a team of dismal defenders he was one of the better ones. You know. The average stuff.
On offense, he's intriguing. Rush ranks among the absolute best three point shooters in the league, having shot the lights out in college and settled in as a career 41% three point bomber in the big leagues. That's downright excellent, especially considering the number of years he spent playing poorly designed offensive sets in the O'Brien system (insofar as the O'Brien house of horrors could be called a system). Last year, freed from the shackles of Indiana's former-lottery-pick expectations and with virtually nobody paying attention to him, he put up a phenomenal scoring season efficiency-wise and showed that he's still got quite a bit of potential as an above-par NBA roleplayer. A 3-and-D guy without the D but with a more multifaceted offensive game. Good at cutting, and in something of a shocking twist, he ended up being one of the top offensive players in the league (by the numbers) at isolation situations last season. This is all with the caveat that his usage was extremely low, and few of these (with the sole exception of his wonderful three point shooting) look to hold up well with added usage. But he's definitely a solid role-player offensively, and his $8 million for 2 years looked like a very solid contract to me when he signed it. Good for both parties.
Then, in the 2nd game of his burgeoning 2013 season, he was pushed in the back on incidental contact and ended up absolutely destroying his knee. As with the Marquis Daniels injury I discussed yesterday, I absolutely refuse to link to video -- it's grisly, it's grim, and just grotesque enough to keep me from spreading it. But if you want to find it, it won't be that hard to track it down. Originally it was thought to be an ACL tear and little else, although anyone watching would've probably been skeptical of that diagnosis. Later, when the media circus died down a bit, the Warriors continued their semi-dishonest injury reporting tactics by hiding the important reveal that Rush also tore his MCL, meaning what looked like a season ending injury wasn't just that, but an injury that could very well take out a portion of his 2014 season. Which is, suffice to say, absolutely heartbreaking. Even moreso when you read articles like this, and read how down in the dumps he is about the whole thing. He's realistic, and he's taking his rehab seriously. But he's understandably pretty depressed about it. And I'd be sad too -- basketball is a profession for an NBA player, but it's also a labor of love. Scarce few members of the league don't love the game, and scarce few players don't always want to be out there. Proving people wrong, showing what they're good for, et cetera. May not be his biggest fan or anything, but here's hoping Brandon Rush makes a full recovery and comes back strong next year. Curious to see what he does with a bit more usage, you know?
Follow Dominic McGuire because you can easily turn his name into "McGuido".
Dominic McGuire is a brutal offensive player. Simply brutal. People can laugh and chortle and make little jokes about how their guy is a poor offensive guy. People whose teams employ Dominic McGuire can't do that. Because Dominic McGuire isn't just a "poor" offensive guy, he's an abjectly horrifying one. What number do you want? Do you want his spot-up efficiency? The guy scored 0.56 points per play on spot-up attempts, and watching them, they were almost all completely open. Dominic McGuire scored 1.00 points per play on transition attempts, which included several hilarious layup misses, a missed dunk, and other hilarious possession failures. Dominic McGuire scored -- again, this is not a typo -- 0.47 points per play on offensive rebounds. BRUTAL.
That all said, he's very g... alright, no, he's a pretty bad player. I really don't know how else to put it. If you're going to make up for offense like that on the other end of the court, you'd better be one of the best defenders of your generation. He isn't. His defense is decent, although it's nowhere near as good as most people hype it up to be. By his size, he's a perimeter stopper -- by his habits, he's a big man stuck in a little man's body. Lots of fronting, some unnecessary ballhawking, a bit too eager to block shots, et cetera. He's not bad, mind you, and one has trouble isolating any one-on-one defensive attributes that look particularly defunct in the game footage I watched. But he simply isn't very phenomenal on that end. His biggest sin, defensively, is sort of problematic -- he may have decent one-on-one stopping capabilities for several positions, but he doesn't fight around screens very well at all, which makes getting an open shot for a star off McGuire not exactly rocket science. Run a few screens, he'll get lost, and suddenly your best perimeter guy has a wide-open jumpshot. Boom.
He was recently waived, which is sad, I suppose. Sort of hilarious that it happened less than two weeks after Dwane Casey called him the Toronto Raptors' primary perimeter stopper, but I'll withhold the chuckles for now. He's a decent defender and those get undervalued. Although once again, when you're as dismal offensively as McGuire is, you aren't long for the league unless you're one of the single greatest defensive players of your generation. I don't have much personal investment in McGuire, so I've got trouble looking incredibly sympathetically on his plight. He's made it to some degree based on his status as a veteran and his decently sized role on the last few decent Wizards teams. But alas. I'm one of those jerks who likes seeing D-League guys (like our next player) try their hand at new roles -- I don't tend to particularly love when middling-to-poor players like McGuire get constantly revisited and called back up instead. I like the new-blood thing. But that's just my cup of tea, I suppose. There's obviously some value in his knowledge of NBA economics, dynamics, and the rest. I probably underrate that. And again, he's a decent defender, so maybe his sticking around reflects NBA decision-makers starting to figure out defense a bit. Maybe.
But, look, come on. He stole my name. Geez, Dom. Get it together.
Ed. Note #1: More accurately, seeing as how Aaron was born in 1990, he stole it from Dominic.
Ed. Note #2: I really don't know why I referred to myself in the third person in Ed. Note #1.
Ed. Note #3: Why are these editor's notes in the first place? What am I doing?
Follow Chris Wright b... wait, Chris Wright? What?
Commenter wul.f, having correctly predicted that Chris Wright was today's 3rd, asked the following:
Why would you do a capsule on Chris Wright, though?
You know what?
I have absolutely no idea how Chris Wright made the final cut.
I'm serious. I have no clue. I thought I'd taken out most players around Wright's minute-level that I knew virtually nothing about (even if the strict exclusion criteria was > 100 minutes & > 4 MPG last season), but I must have simply overlooked the guy. Which sounds roughly similar to how Warriors games happened last year for me -- I suppose was vaguely aware of his existence, but until I watched some Synergy scouting on him last night and asked a friend who went to his college about him, I honest to God couldn't have told you a thing about him. Or recognized him. I just overlooked him, I guess. So, thought I'd state this upfront. I don't really have a ton to say about Chris Wright. I'm not sure anyone else does either, but alas.
Anyway. I'm not referring to the 1989-born Georgetown point guard currently playing in the D-League -- I'm talking about Chris Wright, the 1988-born hometown Dayton kid who went to the University of Dayton and made their team a little bit more relevant for a year or two. According to the guy I know who went there, he's really remarkably beloved in Dayton -- much like Jeff Foster in Indiana (I see you, @MillerNBA!) or any other beloved home-town hero, Wright grew up around the Dayton area and stayed at the University for the full four years, which basically guarantees he gets a beer or two on the house for free in Dayton for the rest of his life. It's one of the underrated fun facts about some guys like Wright -- no matter how badly they may end up washing out in the NBA, no matter how scant their NBA talents, they're still -- in some respect -- hometown heroes to a certain town. ESPECIALLY when they go to their hometown college and lead them to minor respectability.
As for a scouting report... look, what do you want? Seriously. In college, he was a rim-wrecking beast of a player who dominated the A-10 for a few years and put Dayton on the map as a basketball school. As players tend to do, if they're remotely NBA caliber. And he is that, as long as you make sure not to leave out the "remotely." On an NBA level he struggles to score in any consistent fashion beyond transition buckets and gift-wrapped at-rim jams, and beyond his free throw rate (which was obscenely high for reasons unknown to the world), there simply wasn't much to write home about. He's a tweener wing/big who can't shoot but can't really guard big men effectively either. He posted one of the worst assist-to-turnover ratios I've seen, turning the ball over 8 times to just 4 assists. Which is obviously a huge sample size and worthy of massive analysis, let me tell you. Of his 23 NBA field goals, 13 of them came on dunks -- most of them rim-rocking, several of them fun. His understanding of the game is, as IQofAWarrior put it at Golden State of Mind, exceedingly raw and exceedingly in need of some better basketball education. Would be pretty interesting to see Wright make it out to the Austin Toros and see if the Spurs system can't extract a bit more value out of him. Although, again -- he's a tweener wing/big with minimal shooting talent. So I'm not really sure the Spurs system gets that much out of him, unless Engelland beasts it once again and gave him a shot. So that's that. He got waived before the season, and now he's back with the Maine Red Claws.
He'll be back. Probably. Maybe I'll recognize him next time.
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At the end of each post, I'll be scribing riddles for the next group. Whoever gets the most right will get a shout out at the end of the next post. Tweet me your answers at @docrostov, or post them in the comments. Yesterday's riddles were abjectly terrible on my part, but that didn't stop a few people from getting them all right -- Mike L, Cash McNeil, and wul.f in particular.
Player #334 is the best high energy anime-loving center in the NBA. Related story: he's the only one.
Player #335 is retired. There are many reasons people like him. I couldn't stand him on the Cavaliers, but I guess he was OK sometimes. Rousing endorsement, I know.
Player #336 having a good season now after his years as a Wizard just goes to show that any God that exists has a really demented sense of humor.
See, I can still put these up on time! Every now and again.
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