Chad Ford Interviews Julian Wright

Kansas City native, acknowledged KU fan, and ESPN.com draft guru Prof. Chad Ford asks about Wright's draft preparation, last year's Kansas team, the loss to UCLA specifically, Kevin Durant's NBA potential (SPOILER WARNING: Wright thinks Durant will be really, really good.), and who Wright would prefer to be drafted by. I am not entirely sure that this podcast is new (the interview itself is a few days old) nor am I entirely sure that this is not Insider content.

Apologies should either element of my confusion cause inconvenience.

Rush Declaring For Draft, Not Hiring Agent

Per KUSports.com:

"Sources within the Kansas University men's basketball program Thursday evening confirmed that sophomore Brandon Rush, KU's leading scorer this season, has declared himself eligible for the 2007 NBA Draft.

Rush will not yet sign with an agent, leaving the door open for him to return for his junior season.

Rush, who will soon turn 22, had expressed concern that he'd be a 23-year-old rookie if he were to stay another year."

UPDATE: Jason King of the Kansas City Star has a terribly dull and brief (though EXCLUSIVE!) interview with Rush, plus quotes from his mother, Glenda, and his former summer league coach John Walker.

stats glossary

Points, assists, turnovers, blocks, and steals listed per 100 individual possessions

Brandon Rush's stats while at Kansas:

Year %Min eFG% FT% PPWS Pts A TO BS S OR% DR%
FR 79.5 53.9 75.4 1.13 24.2 3.6 4.6 1.3 1.5 5.3 14.3
SO 80.4 53.2 68.1 1.12 24.7 3.6 3.7 1.6 0.7 5.6 13.0

Brandon Rush's 2006-07 stats along with those from comparable players who have entered the 2007 NBA Draft (Arron Aflalo, Morris Almond, Corey Brewer, Daequan Cook, Jeff Green, Alando Tucker, Marcus Williams, and Nick Young):

Name %Min eFG% FT% PPWS Pts A TO BS S OR% DR%
Afflalo 81.0 54.8 79.5 1.18 31.0 3.8 3.3 0.4 1.2 1.6 8.9
Almond 82.9 55.4 84.6 1.26 47.0 2.1 6.1 1.3 2.1 5.0 17.8
Brewer 66.4 53.1 72.3 1.16 27.6 6.1 5.2 0.8 3.9 5.1 13.5
Cook 49.9 53.0 69.7 1.10 30.8 3.2 4.5 0.8 2.2 4.5 20.4
Green 83.0 56.0 77.5 1.20 28.8 6.4 5.2 2.3 1.6 7.3 16.3
Rush 80.4 53.2 68.1 1.12 24.7 3.6 3.7 1.6 0.7 5.6 13.0
Tucker 81.7 50.6 65.9 1.09 38.7 3.9 3.2 0.5 1.8 8.2 12.1
Williams 79.0 52.3 69.5 1.11 29.4 4.0 4.7 1.4 2.0 7.9 15.2
Young 81.3 57.4 78.6 1.23 31.5 2.4 4.4 0.5 1.3 4.7 11.2

Brewer and Green are, in my opinion, clearly better NBA prospects than Rush who will have to differentiate himself from Afflalo, Almond, Cook, Williams, and Young to be assured of being taken in the first round.

I think that Rush's combination of defensive ability and shooting range would be an immediately useful fit for a number of teams. But, were a team looking for immediate or long-term offensive help there are arguably better options, especially Daequan Cook.

Julian Wright: The Day After

The Journal-World's lead story includes the following key quotes from Wright:

"Money has never been my motivation. It's not my family's motivation. It's not about the money."

"I feel I can advance my game playing at the next level."

"I never really looked into anything about the NBA because it's not what my focus was throughout the year. I knew it would not be good for the team. Nobody on the team is looking out for individual things. After the season unwound, I started looking into some things. The interest sparked from there."

"My family has been doing a lot in terms of getting in contact with some people, not directly with any agents. No advisers, just me and my family and what's in my heart."

The Journal-World also has video of the press conference, a notes piece (including speculation regarding Brandon Rush's impending decision), and a Tom Keegan column.

The Kansas City Star story includes this unique quote from Wright:

"This is hard. Trust me. It's hard. It's been my toughest decision ever."

And this one from Bill Self:

"The reality is that things are probably going to work out really good for him. To be very candid, if I was Julian and I was in this situation, I'm not sure I wouldn't make the very same choice. This is a good business decision."

Chad Ford of ESPN.com (Insider) agrees that Wright has made a sound business decision:

"Wright would be taking a pretty significant risk by waiting another year. If he struggled to improve his consistency or his offensive prowess, scouts might quit talking about his upside and might start tearing apart his game next season. When you factor in injury, that's a lot of risk for guy ranked No. 7 in our Top 100."

DraftExpress.com has Julian 8th in their mock draft (which does not take team need into account).

NBADraft.net has Julian 9th in their mock draft. The extra player they have ahead of Julian is Yi Jianlian.

Julian Wright Entering NBA Draft

It's official. I think that the immediate and long-term financial benefits derived from a guaranteed contract make a compelling case for turning pro as soon as you're a highly probable lottery pick. Nor is it a bad idea to turn pro in a year when Phoenix (58-19, 2nd seed in West), Detroit (49-27, 1st seed in East), and Chicago (46-32, 2nd seed in East) each project to have top-15 picks (as of today) in the draft.

I also think that, if you assume that Julian Wright has room to improve as a basketball player (and I do), it's likely that he will improve more and at a quicker pace if he's playing basketball professionally than as a student-athlete at the University of Kansas, playing (at most) 20-25 meaningful games in between limited practice time while taking a heavier-than-average course load in pursuit of early graduation.

Here's Julian's stats from the past two years.

stats glossary

Points, assists, turnovers, blocks, and steals listed per 100 individual possessions

Year %Min eFG% FT% PPWS Pts A TO BS S OR% DR%
FR 50.3 57.8 55.7 1.17 24.3 5.1 5.7 3.4 2.9 9.2 14.2
SO 68.3 55.3 61.3 1.14 25.2 4.5 5.0 2.7 3.0 11.0 20.0

He will be missed.

Also, Julian's 06-07 stats in comparison with those from some other big men projected to go in the first round.

Name %Min eFG% FT% PPWS Pts A TO BS S OR% DR%
Noah 64.6 60.7 66.3 1.28 27.8 5.2 5.8 4.2 2.6 13.3 24.6
B Wright 66.3 64.6 56.7 1.29 29.4 2.0 3.2 3.5 2.0 8.8 15.8
J Wright 68.3 55.3 61.3 1.14 25.2 4.5 5.0 2.7 3.0 11.0 20.0
Horford 66.1 60.8 64.4 1.27 28.5 4.7 3.9 4.0 1.6 12.2 27.0
McRoberts 87.2 50.9 66.4 1.10 22.5 6.0 4.2 4.3 2.0 7.6 19.4

2006 NBA Draft

This will likely be the last Jayhawk-free draft for a number of years but anyone interested in the proceedings is free to follow live draft commentary at Hoopinion. Obligatory Jayhawk content: I strongly believe that Julian Wright, had he entered this year's draft, would have been picked in the lottery. Luckily for us, he could be good enough that he waits to turn pro until he's a top five pick.

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