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PacersFan
06-29-2004, 09:46 PM
http://www.savannahnow.com/stories/062604/2264189.shtml

Pacers 'lucky' to get Statesboro's Wright

Charles Shepard
Morris News Service

ATHENS - For Rashad Wright's old and new teams, the only shock from Thursday night's NBA draft was that Wright wasn't picked sooner.

''As I watched the draft evolve, I was more surprised with each pick,'' said Georgia coach Dennis Felton, who worked with Statesboro's Wright for his senior season. ''I was shocked at some of the people picked before he was.''

And Felton had plenty of time to be baffled. The Indiana Pacers picked the 6-foot-2, 190-pound Wright, the Bulldogs' career leader in assists (480) and the Southeastern Conference's Defensive Player of the Year last season, at No. 59 - the last selection. There were 23 guards picked before Wright, three of them high schoolers and nine of them players who left college early.

''We were extraordinarily lucky to get him in this draft,'' Pacers player personnel director Mel Daniels said. ''The point guards he was against in workouts, he outplayed them. And for some, it wasn't even close.''

The Pacers, who drafted another Georgia guard, Vern Fleming, 20 years ago, thought enough of Wright to take him with their second of two picks. Indiana, which fell to eventual NBA champion Detroit in the Eastern Conference finals last season, chose Colorado center David Harrison with the 29th pick, the last of the first round.

''(Wright) understands the (point guard) position,'' Daniels said. ''He's a tenacious defender, he can score, he can run, he can handle and he can pass. He's got good size, unlike some of the point guards ahead of him. Again, I think we were very fortunate.''

Wright was perhaps the Bulldogs' steadiest player over his four years. He played in 82 percent of the 4,760 possible minutes during his career and is the only Georgia player to dish 100 or more assists in each of his three seasons.

His senior season was his worst when it came to giving offense away, but it was only because he had to shoulder more of a scoring role and answered the challenge by leading Georgia with 14.3 points per game. He still shared the team lead with 88 assists.

His style, however, is anything but flashy, which is something many critics thought would hurt him in a league that has grown increasingly fond of high-light reel dunks and passes.

''Rashad didn't take very long to catch my attention,'' Felton said. ''The very best, the Kobe Bryants of the world, their athleticism allows them to be flashy. But when you look at their game, the things they get done, there's nothing flashy about it. They understand the game the way it was meant to be played.

''Rashad is explosively quick, he's strong, an uncanny finisher in the half court and the transition. He showed for the first time this year that he could shoot the ball and score enough to be more than a floor general.''

Said Wright's coach at Statesboro High School, Lee Hill: "You know how Indiana plays defense. Rashad's a good defensive player and a true point guard. He's going to run the offense they want him to."

Wright will report to the Pacers' rookie/free agent camp in Indianapolis on July 12.

Ahead of him on the roster is third-year point guard Jamaal Tinsley, a player of similar size at 6-3, 195, who led the Pacers with 5.8 assists per game last season. There is also former Georgia Tech standout Kenny Anderson, Tinsley's backup, but he may land somewhere else by next season.

The Pacers hope Wright will work out as well as the last Bulldog they picked, who averaged 11.3 points per game over 12 seasons in Indiana, then worked as an assistant coach from 2000 to '03 as part of Isaiah Thomas' staff.

''Vern Fleming is one of the best,'' Daniels said. ''He's a great human being and basketball player at the same time. I'm just hoping Rashad has the same type of fire.''

Notes - Larry Bird, the Pacers' president, told The Associated Press that Wright was a: "Real nice pick for us. He's got a chance. He's got a real chance." Also, Pacers coach Rick Carlise told the AP: "We're looking for competitiveness. Rashad Wright has proven he's a high-level competitor and we're going to find out about (first-round pick David) Harrison."

Hicks
06-29-2004, 09:55 PM
''We were extraordinarily lucky to get him in this draft,'' Pacers player personnel director Mel Daniels said. ''The point guards he was against in workouts, he outplayed them. And for some, it wasn't even close.''

If this were Wright's agent, I wouldn't really take much from it.

However, I respect Mel Daniels saying it. This should be interesting.

pacerwaala
06-29-2004, 10:37 PM
mel daniels has a job with the Pacers organization - job description includes showing to the public that the organization's decisons are good ones.

Lets wait and see. All 28 GMs cannot be idiotic twice on the same night

Hicks
06-29-2004, 10:39 PM
mel daniels has a job with the Pacers organization - job description includes showing to the public that the organization's decisons are good ones.

That's not what's going on here. Mel's the one who scouted him and encouraged us to take him if available. He loved him before he was a Pacer.

MSA2CF
06-29-2004, 10:40 PM
There's a first time for everything, pacerwaala. :P

Hoop
06-29-2004, 10:53 PM
Wright made his first impression on the Pacers' brass with his competitiveness and grit during his pre-draft workout. He showed much of the same during the Chicago pre-draft camp.

"A real nice pick for us," Pacers president Larry Bird said. "We brought him in (for a workout), saw him in Chicago. He's a player. It's all (Pacers director of player personnel) Mel Daniels has been talking about for a month now. The kid's got talent. He's got a chance."

MSA2CF
06-29-2004, 10:59 PM
I'm willing to bet that Rashad will adapt quickly, and may even start a handful of games this season should Jamaal falter/stumble.

Hicks
06-29-2004, 11:00 PM
If he's as good as advertised, I wouldn't be shocked if our PG rotation is just Tinsley/Wright

Netweeny
06-29-2004, 11:07 PM
For some reason, I think of Haywood Workman when I hear about Wright. Would be nice if he can be as tenacious as Haywood....... Thats probably the best we can hope for from the last pick of the draft.

Will Galen
06-29-2004, 11:21 PM
mel daniels has a job with the Pacers organization - job description includes showing to the public that the organization's decisons are good ones.

Lets wait and see. All 28 GMs cannot be idiotic twice on the same night


No, not likely, but then all of the (29) other GM's didn't have two picks. If fact after it was all said and done I think three teams had three picks in the first round. I know two did. (usually I check facts like that before I post but I don't feel like it tonight.)

I was thinking on this subject when our draft pick David Harrison, and other players said they want to get revenge on teams that didn't pick them earlier in the draft.

I think their words are a bit silly. For example, if you are New Jersey with Jason Kidd, and you need a shooting guard, why should the passed over player who's a point guard get mad at New Jersey.

Everything in the draft is relative. If this years Pacer's team had the first pick in the draft and a small forward was the consensus best player, yes the Pacer's would more than likely take him. ( then make some trades) But if there is no consensus then there is no way the Pacer's take a small forward. So should a SF who gets passed over get mad at the Pacer's?

I think I'm probably too much of a stickler for detail, but inconsistencies like that bug me a bit.

ChicagoJ
06-29-2004, 11:34 PM
For some reason, I think of Haywood Workman when I hear about Wright. Would be nice if he can be as tenacious as Haywood....... Thats probably the best we can hope for from the last pick of the draft.

I don't get the Haywoode comparison. Workman was very, very limited, skills wise, but was a big time hustler and his enthusiasm and willingness to work hard won over his teammates. But, like AJ, he couldn't start a possession or make the first pass any earlier than at about the 12 to 14-second mark on the shotclock.

Wright seems to have true PG skills. Maybe not flashy. I keep thinking this kid might be able crack the rotation next year.

Look at Tinsley's backups - AJ doesn't really have a PG skillset but is okay in a pinch. KA = gone. Brewer - no skills or court vision at all but plays with the intensity of thunderstorm. Fred - according to a very, very vocal portion of the PD community, he's so good as a dunking SG now that there's no reason to develop his 'combo guard' skills. Wright - we'll see, but I think he's got a chance to contribute.

Unclebuck
06-30-2004, 12:04 AM
I like the fact that he is not flashy.

kerosene
06-30-2004, 12:11 AM
I was thinking on this subject when our draft pick David Harrison, and other players said they want to get revenge on teams that didn't pick them earlier in the draft.

I think their words are a bit silly. For example, if you are New Jersey with Jason Kidd, and you need a shooting guard, why should the passed over player who's a point guard get mad at New Jersey.


It may be a bit silly but at the same time if it's a person who is competitive then it can be good fuel for their game. Gilbert Arenas said the same thing about making teams regret not picking him and he used that pretty well (at least until he got his Wizards contract; I'm not sure what to think now).