Brandan Wright, starting for the white team in Wednesday's open-to-the-public practice, took a pass in the paint with his back to the basket.
With one dribble, he turned toward the middle and jumped, stretching over the reach of defenders Andris Biedrins and David Lee, easily dropping in a left-handed hook. It was a move that jogged a memory.
"You did see some flashes," coach Keith Smart said. "And he's shown that through camp."
Many fans may have forgotten Wright was even on the team. Certainly, the expectations for Wright have diminished for the player Golden State acquired by giving up fan favorite Jason Richardson. Wright's relevance has waned because he's played only 77 games in his three seasons, including none last year, thanks to left shoulder injuries. The addition of Lee -- who was signed to a six-year, $80 million contract by the Knicks then traded to the Warriors -- didn't help Wright's cause.
But Wright promises to remind everyone why the franchise once had high hopes for him. He's off to another good camp. His teammates and coaches are pleased at what he's shown so far. At Wednesday's practice at Oracle Arena in Oakland, he was the best among the reserves, finishing with 12 points, six rebounds and three assists.
"Oh yeah, people are sleeping on me," Wright said. "But I like that. I know I'm going to surprise a lot of people."
Wright said his shoulder isn't an issue anymore, that "you'd have to drop a
If that's true, it would be a long time coming.
Jan. 7, 2009. That's when the shoulder issues began for Wright.
Late in the second quarter against the Los Angeles Lakers, trying to block a dunk by forward Pau Gasol, Wright partially dislocated his right shoulder. He would play just eight games the rest of the way.
After an offseason of getting his shoulder together, Wright was a beast in training camp in 2009. Then-coach Don Nelson even called him the best player in camp. But on Oct. 2, 2009, a defender hit his arm hard enough to reinjure his shoulder. This time, it was bad enough to require season-ending surgery.
One year later, Wright is again impressing in training camp. But the situation is significantly different this time around.
He's headed for free agency at season's end. Instead of competing for a starting spot, he's now fighting for backup minutes thanks to the addition of Lee. Instead of playing power forward, he's going to be used at small forward by Smart.
And he's no longer a core youngster, but a role player with question marks.
"I know after last year, people swept me under the rug," Wright said.
Wright said he went back to the basics this offseason. He worked on his ball-handling, his post game, his shooting, his jump hook.
Smart said he is going to ease Wright into the mix, since he hasn't played for such a long time. Wright said he still isn't back to his old self, but he's almost there, still working on his conditioning, timing and confidence.
"He's a guy who we're going to need," Lee said. "He's done some good things in camp. He's going to really help us off the bench."
Note: Forwards Rodney Carney (right hip contusion) and Louis Amundson (lower back stiffness) sat out practice.
L.A. CIippers at Warriors, 7:30 p.m. Radio: 1050-AM