What Does Brandan Wright Bring to the Phoenix Suns?

The super-efficient Wright will help the Phoenix Suns as the Western Conference playoff race heats up, but how far will he help them go?

On January 9th, the Boston Celtics sent big man Brandan Wright to the Phoenix Suns in exchange for the Minnesota Timberwolves’ 2015 first round draft pick that Phoenix owned. The pick is protected in 2015 and 2016 if it falls between first and 12th in the draft. It then becomes ’16 and ’17 second-round picks.

The most likely scenario is that Boston ends up with the two second-rounders considering how poorly Minnesota has played. The Timberwolves, per our metrics, are just the 28th-best team in the league, and their nERD is just 21.5, meaning should expect to win about 21.5% of their games this year.

As for the Suns, the impact is more immediate. Wright had his best season of his NBA career last year with the Dallas Mavericks. Wright averaged a career-high in minutes per game at 18.6, and his numbers per 36 minutes were impressive, scoring 17.5 points per game, grabbing 8.2 rebounds per game, all while shooting 67.7% from the floor. He also set career-bests in Player Efficiency Rating at 23.5, win shares with 5.1, and win shares per 48 minutes at .227.

Despite playing just 1,077 minutes last year, Wright posted an individual nERD of 6.4. This indicates that he would add about 6.4 wins to a team if he was a starter for them. That ranked 23rd in the entire league. His nF Efficiency mark (4.7) was fifth-best in the league, too. In fact, his nF Efficiency ties for 34th-highest among the 3,763 players who logged at least 1,000 minutes in a season since 2000.

With Dallas, Wright continued his production from his breakout year, scoring 17 points per 36 minutes, 7.8 rebounds, and increasing his shooting percentage to a career-best 74.8%. He also increased his Player Efficiency Rating to 25.8 and his win shares per 48 minutes to .275. However, the Mavs shipped Wright to Boston in return for Rajon Rondo and Dwight Powell. Unable to find a role in Boston, Wright was then traded to the Phoenix Suns after just eight games with the team.

One major reason the Suns coveted Wright is due to his extremely efficient play. This year, Wright’s nERD is 8.4. That ranks 15th in the league and is higher than star players such as LeBron James (7.2) and LaMarcus Aldridge (7.7).

After missing the playoffs by just one game last year, the Phoenix Suns are again right in the hunt this season. Currently, they hold the 8th seed and are two games ahead of the New Orleans Pelicans and Oklahoma City Thunder. Based on numberFire projections, Wright adds only 0.5 wins to the Suns, assuming he splits time at center with Alex Len. Although that amount seems insignificant, numberFire algorithms project Phoenix right on the bubble of the 8th seed, so just a small increase in projected wins actually increases Phoenix’s playoff odds by about 5%. Phoenix currently has a 51.4% chance to make playoffs, per our metrics.

If Brandan Wright can get comfortable with the Suns and put up similar numbers to how he played in Dallas the past two seasons, expect to see Phoenix in the 2015 NBA Playoffs.