Former KU lottery pick Julian Wright running with the Utah Jazz this summer
In 2007, Kansas forward Julian Wright, whom some called a young Magic Johnson because of his size, athletic ability and vision as a passer, became an NBA lottery pick when the New Orleans Hornets made him the No. 13 overall pick following two stellar seasons at Kansas.
Today, Wright is trying to make it back into the league as a center.
Listed on the Utah Jazz summer league roster, with a big C by his name, the 6-foot-8, 225-pound former Jayhawk Wright again is knocking on the door of the league he played in from 2007-2011.
During that time, Wright played in 231 games in three seasons with New Orleans and a fourth with Toronto, making a total of 40 starts and underwhelming most of the way.
Though plenty gifted athletically, Wright struggled to transition to the pro game, primarily because his jump shot was not where it needed to be, and that led him to more bench time than playing time. His four-year averages landed at 3.9 points and 2.3 rebounds per game, and, from there, he jumped overseas, where he has continued his playing career to this day.
Last listed as a member of Pallacanestro Reggiana, of Italy’s LBA, Serie A Basketball League, Wright has played with eight different franchises overseas from 2012 to today, with two stints in Israel, two in Italy and at least part of one season in Greece, Puerto Rico, Russia and Turkey, as well.
While it remains to be seen what comes of Wright’s summer tryout with the Jazz, Kansas coach Bill Self told the Journal-World on Wednesday that he had heard some favorable feedback on Wright already this summer.
“Somebody told me he’s big enough, he can switch screens, he could do some good things if he could get in shape, and maybe he could make a team,” Self said of his former Chicago standout. “But who knows?”
Wright’s presence on the Utah roster has caught the attention of those who cover the Jazz on a regular basis. So, too, has his physical presence. Much larger than he ever was during his days as a thin, dynamic play maker in Kansas, Wright looks like a completely different player today and, in many ways, is almost unrecognizable on the floor.
Calling him a Center might have caught some off guard, but at least one outlet, Utah’s SB Nation site, believes that Wright could be auditioning as a stretch big, which, given his height, was the way some of his overseas clubs used him during recent years.
Evidence of this guess appears in the following video clip, where Wright (No. 30) can be seen fading to the corner at the bottom of the screen.
While playing a stretch four (provided his shot has improved to that level) might be Wright’s best path toward getting a legitimate look, don’t expect it to be one that leads to a roster spot.
Here’s another quick video in which you get a little closer look at Wright, with that beard that has been a part of his signature look for the past several years.
And here's a video interview from a couple of years ago, which opens with Wright talking about his Kansas experience.