Dorell Wright has spent time on the bench before.
As a 19-year-old rookie and first-round draft pick for the Miami Heat, Wright appeared in just three games as the team went all the way to the Eastern Conference Finals. The very next year, Wright got into 20 games on a team dominated by Dwyane Wade and Shaquille O’Neal as the Heat won the NBA title.
So Wright knows all about sitting on the bench. That doesn’t mean he likes it, but the nine-year veteran gets it.
“I call it the NBA. It’s a roller coaster,” Wright explained. “Sometimes there are going to be highs and sometimes there’s going to be lows. The thing about it is you beat the lows and try to have as many highs as possible. I understand it. I’ve been through a lot with ups and downs as far as playing time and my efficiency and things like that. So I just have to go out there and continue to play hard and whatever happens, happens.”
It would be tough for any player to have to sit by and wait for a chance. That’s especially the case for Wright, who led the NBA in three-pointers made and attempted during the last 82-game season in 2010-11 while with Golden State. Wright also started all 143 games he spent with the Warriors.
When Wright joined the Sixers as part of a three-team trade with the Warriors and Hornets. He clocked regular minutes and was thrust into the starting lineup when Jason Richardson injured his ankle during the second game of the season at Madison Square Garden. Better yet, Wright used those minutes to produce. He hit a three-pointer in each of the first eight games of the season, and in 10 of the first 11.
But a dozen games into the season was also when Wright’s minutes began to wane. This season, Wright has logged eight minutes or less seven times, and that does not include the back-to-back DNPs he took in late January.
Yes, it’s been a topsy-turvy season for Wright, but not one to get him down.
“I’m going to continue to stay positive,” Wright said. “I played for [Lakers, Knicks and Heat Hall-of-Fame coach] Pat Riley. He was always trying to test you on the mental approach to the game and made sure you stayed strong mentally.”
Lately though, the 27-year old shooter has bided his time and found a niche on coach Doug Collins’ bench. When Wright gets the minutes, he gives the Sixers some scoring. Over the last seven games, when Wright has played at least 20 minutes, he has scored at least 10 points.
That’s the least of it. Over the last 11 games, Wright has hit 27 three-pointers, including three of them during the first half of Monday night’s 107-97 victory over the Nets at the Wells Fargo Center. With Wright leading the offense, the Sixers went on a 9-1 run to close the first half and overcome an early deficit to win for the first time in six tries.
Wright’s 29-foot three-pointer with 29.9 seconds left in the half proved to be a morale booster for the Sixers.
“When the game is open he gets those free-flowing shots. He’s one guy who really benefits from us moving the ball,” Collins said. “When we get defensive stops he’s doubly effective because he gets in the open court and we get him matched up. [Monday night] he hit one at the end of the clock that was really important.”
Next, the Sixers face the Heat at the Wells Fargo Center on Wednesday night. The last time the Heat visited Philly, Wright hit five three-pointers for 17 points in 32 minutes. He hit three more threes against the Heat last Friday in Miami for 14 points in 26 minutes.
Look for Collins to give Wright a chance to add to those totals come Wednesday.