Brandan Wright’s Unnaturally Natural Jump
USA Today Sports
Brandan Wright might be the skinniest player in the NBA. When he’s standing at rest on the floor, nothing except for his above-average height stands out. He’s easily backed down in the post. He moves awkwardly. He looks physically hungry.
But when he takes off —my God, it’s majestic. Brandan Wright’s grace in the air is matched only by the quickness with which he reaches the peak of his leap. Like a cat, Wright’s physical makeup does not suggest that he can launch himself across the room or, in his case, the basketball court. Where are the muscles beneath the fur that allow Wright to do things like this? Brandan Wright is the highest-paid feline in the world. Super-muscular players—you know, freaks of nature like LeBron James and Blake Griffin—defy gravity in the same ways as Wright. But Wright is not Blake Griffin, and he is not LeBron James. The eye test could tell you as much. He is me if I were seven inches taller. His physique is impressive, but it is not outstanding. He is an unnatural leaper with a surprisingly natural build, at least relative to many other NBA jumpers.
The most stunning phase of Wright’s mysterious jump occurs on the way up. He’s springy. I would wager no player reaches the mid-air summit quicker than the Mavericks’ backup center. It’s as if he’s shot out of a cannon or jumping on a trampoline — perhaps his shoes have hovering capability, or he’s drawn toward the stadium’s roof like a magnet. His leap is so effortless, yet so lethally pacy. One second he’s earthbound and the next he’s three feet off the ground dunking on the head of your team’s defender. He trains in an extreme gravity chamber, I’m convinced. Dragon Ball Z fans will know what I’m talking about. Is Brandan Wright a Saiyan?
The Mavericks are clear proponent’s of exploiting Wright’s unnaturally natural verticality. Wright’s average shot is taken from 4.1 feet, and a tick below 29 percent of his field goal attempts are dunks, by far a career-high mark. More than 87 percent of his shots come off assists, and the rest typically come off of offensive rebounds. Brandan Wright does several things well, but his greatest strength — getting way the hell up there — is the most-highlighted element of his game.
Nate Robinson, Spud Webb, and a few other fun-sized guards are known as some of the most inexplicably great jumpers in league history, but I would wager Wright is underrated in that discussion. To wit, he is listed as one foot taller than Robinson yet he weighs just 20 pounds more than the swaggiest dunk competition winner of them all. Somewhere within Wright (instead of muscle and bones, no less) rests the redefinition of what we know about plyometrics. I’m only speculating, but it’s possible his bones are made of springs.
If scientists want to investigate the ever-extending limits of what the human body can achieve, they need only watch a Mavericks game. Just be sure to tell them to keep their eyes in the sky, because that’s where they’ll find their subject.