Last night, Julian Wright was the débutante at a coming-out party at Quicken Loans Arena. When he entered the game with 1:29 left in the first quarter, the Raptors were trailing 32-19. He remained on the court right through to the end of the half, when the Raptors led 66-63. In those 13 minutes of playing time, Wright had 11 points, four rebounds and four assists — he was the main reason the Raptors got back in the game.

The Raptors still led by three points when Wright re-entered the game at the 5:46 mark of the third quarter. He played the remainder of the game and helped lead the Raptors to a 15-point win. He finished the night with season-highs in minutes (31), points (15), rebounds (9), a career-high in assists (5) and an amazing plus-32 rating for the game.

What impressed me most about Wright last night was his court vision. I was reminded of the fact that he played point guard in high school by the seeing-eye assists he dished out. His ability to run the floor, score in transition and be a disruptor on defence were well established. His playmaking ability was a revelation to me.

With all of this gushing, it shouldn’t surprise you that our first video is a compilation of Julian Wright highlights. I think you’ll agree with me that his assists were the most impressive part of his night.

If you’ve read me for awhile, you know I try to think unconventionally about this team sometimes. Am I crazy to think that Wright might be able to play some minutes at point guard? Sure, the fact that he can’t shoot beyond 10 feet is problematic, but think of what he might be able to do defensively against some of the deadlier scoring point guards in the league. And based on what I saw last night, he might be a better passer than Jerryd Bayless.

Unless he gets traded in the next month or so, Jose Calderon remains the best passer on the team and he reminded us of that fact with a season-high 17 assists to go with his 20 points on 8-for-10 shooting, including 3-for-3 from deep. This wasn’t just his best game of the season, it was probably his best game since he dropped 22 and 19 on the Bulls in March 2009. Like Maestro Fresh-Wes back in the day, he was conductin’ thangs.

While he’s not getting as much playing time as he has in previous seasons, Calderon’s per-36-minute averages of 13.1 points and 10.1 assists show that he’s playing as well as he ever has this season. He’s also shooting a career-high 44.8 percent from three-point range, which ranks him sixth in the league behind Chris Paul. In spite of this, the Raptors are dead last in the NBA in shooting percentage from that range. I’m no mathematician, but it seems to me that Jay Triano needs to encourage Jose to shoot more treys.

Two of Calderon’s treys were in that previous video, but I wanted to show you his third make in a separate video because it features some of the best ball movement I’ve seen from this team in a while. I guess it takes playing a craptacular team like the Cavs to get the Raptors playing fast and loose on offence.

Comments (12)

  1. Love the vids and analysis, Scott. Keep em coming.

  2. Man, reading these breakdowns and not being able to watch the clips is torture. Torture, I tell you!

    Any chance the international blackouts will be done with?

  3. Martin: Sorry, man. The video player that our IT dept. made for these videos have international blocking built in. I don’t know how to turn off the blocking and even if I figured it out, I would be in a heap of trouble.

  4. Why not let Wright do the point forward thing a la Hedo (minus the out of shapeness and general suckiness), especially when he and Bayless play together? He’s made a lot of nice passes this season in the few minutes he’s gotten. The starting lineup could use his D, that’s for damn sure.

  5. dribbles: I like how you think. He could be a more athletic, more sober Hedo with less shooting range.

  6. Wright had one career game as a SF with 15pts, 9 rbs, 5asts, scoring all within the post area and you want him to take over as a point guard. Are you crazy or what?
    He did have a large impact in the game in place of Kleiza, who struggled, but it was Bargnani and Barbosa with Calderon that keyed the comeback in the 2nd Q, with help from Wright on D and O utilizing his athletic ability .
    In his previous 4 games he averaged 15mins with a total of 3/10 7points, 8boards, and 5 assists total for the 4 games.
    At this point he is a good energy sub off the bench for D and his athletic ability gives options that Kleiza lacks. Until he can contribute consistent nubers thats where he belongs, unless Kleiza or Weems are unable to go.

  7. No, dear Johnn19,
    you cannot dare to say the trio of Bargs-Barbosa-Calderon keyed the comeback in the 2nd quarter (as, for example, a NBA commenter said himself) because this would bother the last fresh-new dream of Scott on who is the “Best Player” (scare quotes intentional) on this team.
    After delighting himself and the readers with fancy theories on how Amir might well be the Most Valuable Being on Earth, now we get the new revelation that Julian Wright is what it takes!
    Disillusioned perverted minds, even in flat simple matter like sports, keep loving to look at small straws in someone’s eye than, you know, the big effective picture.
    It’s part of the art – and the seduction – of being a manipulator of souls.

  8. JOSÉ CALERÓN 17 ASSISTS!!

    is still the luke ridnour kind of player you want him to be?

  9. Those last two comments hardly made sense….

  10. I still think Julian Wright is terrible and this performance was simply a result of an atrocious Cavaliers team. I mean, if we took the performances of every Raptor in this game and made bold statements from them, we’d have the greatest team in the league. From Bargnani to Barbosa, everyone who had a chance played well. Could it have been the quality of competition?

  11. Wright is far and away the best defensive wing on this team, and in the few minutes he’s gotten (not just the Cavs game), he’s shown some nice playmaking skills. He doesn’t usually score much because he doesn’t shoot much. It’s almost like he knows his role, god forbid.

    I’d take his D and energy over selfish chuckers who can’t play a lick of D any day of the week. Especially on this team full of chuckers who can’t play a lick of D. It’s fucking amazing how so many fans of this game discount defence so much. It’s only half the game, right? Are you not tired of seeing layup lines and wide open looks night after night? And look at this starting lineup. Which player would any of you consider average to above average defenders? Amir? Then who? But that’s ok?

    The guy is 23 years old and has shown promise in more than one game (Detroit and Dallas were other good examples). Stats aren’t everything either. Look at Shane Battier.

  12. Shane Battier can score the basketball and is at least a threat on offense (e.g. can hit open threes). Julian Wright is just poor, on both sides of the floor – don’t let 10-15 minutes against the Cavs, a Dirk-less Mavs team, and the lowly Pistons fool you. The more minutes you give a guy like this, the more obvious his inabilities will become. If he wasn’t on the Raptors, he wouldn’t be in the NBA. The same goes for Dorsey and Alibi.

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