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2021 NBA Draft Profile: McKinley Wright IV could be a steal for an NBA team on draft night

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Could the Nuggets possibly be that team?

Georgetown v Colorado Photo by Brett Wilhelm/NCAA Photos via Getty Images

To round out our draft profiles here at Denver Stiffs what better way than to evaluate the guy that played a massive role in the University of Colorado’s success over the past few years, McKinley Wright IV. With Tad Boyle leading the charge on the sidelines, Wright ran the show for CU these past four years on the court and gave us some tremendous memories along the way.

NCAA Basketball: Colorado at Air Force Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports

Wright started in 130 of the 131 games he played in with the Buffalo’s starting his last 120 games in college. Not only was Wright durable and always available, but he never had a problem producing from the moment he stepped foot in Boulder.

In his four years at CU, Wright made a habit of scoring when he needed to score and passing when plays were there to be made for his teammates. Wright leaves CU as the colleges all-time leader in assists at 683, which is a record that stood since 1984 when Jay Humphries graduated with 562 assists in his collegiate career.

As far as points are concerned, Wright sits at sixth on that list with 1,857 points at CU with Cory Higgins and Richard Roby topping that list at 2,001 points a piece. It’s not just the godly numbers he put up, but the efficiency in which he did so that really stands out when you watch Wright.

Not only does Wright get his teammates involved, but he does so without turning the ball over as he came in at 23rd in the nation last year with an assist turnover ratio of 2.68. Wright had 182 assists last year and committed just 68 turnovers. It was a massive improvement from his first three years in college as he committed 94, 108, and 96 turnovers in his first three years at CU.

Wright had a tremendous showing at the NBA combine last month and rose his draft stock by showcasing his abilities on both ends of the floor. ESPN draft analyst Jonathan Givony tabled Wright as one of the big winners from combine week that found a way to boost their draft stock.

If the Nuggets end of trading back into the second round and are looking for another floor general to bring off the bench Wright certainly fits that bill. Even though it would be awesome to see Wright drafted, he is another player the Nuggets may consider with a two-way contract or an invite to play on their summer league team like we have seen them do with a ton of CU players in the past.

McKinley Wright IV, Guard, Colorado

Vitals

Height: 6’0”

Wingspan: 6’5.25”

Weight: 196

Age: 22 (10/25/1998)


Wright’s per game stats for his senior season (2020-21)

It was another career year for Wright averaging a career-high 15.2 points and 5.7 assists per game. Wright’s rebounding numbers dropped off a little bit from his junior year (5.7) as he averaged a career-low 4.3 rebounds per game last season. Considering his size and frame at 6-foot and a little under 200 pounds, Wright’s rebounding numbers are actually pretty impressive even after a career-low season.

Wright struggled this past season from beyond the arc shooting just 30.1 percent on 2.9 attempts per game. Where Wright was incredibly effective was from 2-point range as he shot 54 percent inside the three-point line to give him a field goal percentage of 48 percent. As far as his defensive numbers are concerned, Wright forced 1.1 steals per game in each of his past three season at CU.


Strengths

Passing, playmaking, scoring

Wright was in full control of the Buffaloes offense throughout his four years at CU and could immediately step in and play point guard at the next level. For a team that runs a lot of pick-n-roll, Wright would fit in perfectly considering that is the offense he thrived in while at CU.

Playmaking and passing ability is something that just comes naturally to Wright and the beauty of it all is he does so without turning the ball over. We already touched on it above how Wright had one of the best assist turnover ratios in all of college basketball and his ability to always know what to do in the pick-n-roll is a big reason why.

Wright is also deadly in transition conserving he’s pretty good at finishing near the rim even with his smaller frame. We’ll get more into that later, but his rebounding ability is a big reason as to why Wright’s transition game is so dynamic.

Now we get to the 2-point scoring as Wright almost does all his damage inside the arc. Not only can Wright score off the pick-n-roll, but his ability to change speeds allows him to score in a variety of other ways. Wright has no problem getting to the rim for a bucket and couples that with a phenomenal floater and stop-and-pop shooting game.

If a team on draft night is looking for a late round steal who can lead their offense, Wright is their guy. Wright always plays in control and his pace of play is something that should immediately translate to the next level. It’s also just an added bonus that his passing, playmaking, and scoring ability goes hand in hand with his ability to be in control at all times when he is on the basketball court.

Defense

For as much as we talked above Wright’s offensive ability, his defensive ability is also something that should translate to the next level. Wright is incredible at the point of attack and rarely got blown by in college. Now at the next level when he’s going up against quicker and bigger guards it may become an issue, but it certainly wasn't in college.

When the Buffs needed a play in crunch time, Wright was the one who delivered on both ends of the floor. Wright is really good at contesting jumpers and always accepts the challenge of guarding the other teams best guard.

Wright’s competitive nature allows him to succeed on the defensive end of the floor and he pairs that with phenomenal lateral quickness to ensure he’s always in the right spots. If he can bulk up at the next level there is no doubt Wright can become a solid defender.

Rebounding

Yes, that’s right... at 6-foot, 196 pounds, Wright never shy’s away from crashing the boards. It comes from his competitive nature as Wright truly never backs down from a challenge and rebounding is just another notch in that belt.

Rebounding at a high level is what allows Wright to have such a big impact in the transition game. Wright can lead the break and get all the way to the bucket for a lay up or dump it off to his teammate for a much easier look.

It goes back to Wright’s ability to not turn the ball which is even more incredible when you think about how much damage he does in the open court. Even though it might be tougher for Wright to get the same level of rebounds in the NBA, his competitive spirit is something you can't teach and that part of his game will 100 percent translate.

Heart

This one I had to throw in because heart and hustle is what Wright is all about. Anytime he takes the floor, Wright leaves it all out there and nobody can ever question that. It’s evident in how much Wright meant to Boyle and the Buffaloes program all together.

It’s guys like you want to add to your basketball team. Not just great players, but great people and Wright certainly fits that bill. Even though he is a little undersized, Wright has never let that affect him as he plays with the heart of a lion and whatever team adds him certainly won't regret it.


Weaknesses

Three-point shooting

Wright doesn't have that many negatives to his game, but one area he could improve on is his three-point shooting. He is far from the worst guard shooter in this years class, but Wright’s three-point percentage of 30.1 percent last season won't blow teams away.

The positive thing is Wright’s shot is not broken, far from it actually. It’s evident in his free-throw numbers as Wright shot 84.4 percent from the stripe last season and was a career 80.3 percent free-throw shooter during his time at CU.

It may be something where Wright was in charge of so many different things with the Buffaloes offense that his three-point shot just never came around. It’s tough to find consistency when you attempt just 2.9 threes a game while doing a bulk of the creativity offensively.

If Wright can focus more on his three-ball at the next level it may come a little easier considering he should have far less on his plate offensively. As long as Wright can keep his three-point shooting numbers around 35 percent in the NBA he should have no problem staying on the floor and with more time to work on that part of his game it may just come naturally.

Age

A lot of players in this years class are young and Wright just isn't one of them. Wright will turn 23 years old in October and for some teams that may put him off their board. Whether that’s fair to Wright or not it’s just the nature of the business as teams are intrigued by young players that have the most upside.

The upside just isn't there with Wright like you see with other point guards in this class. Wright could easily become the next Monte Morris though, who the Nuggets selected 51st overall in the 2017 NBA Draft. Similar to Wright, Morris entered the draft after a four year career at Iowa State and was considered one of the older players in his class.

Morris was 21 years old when the Nuggets drafted him and even though Wright is a year older a lot of similarities are there. Similar body types and both were tasked with running the show at their colleges. Morris has carved out a pretty nice role for himself in the NBA and Wright could follow in those same foot steps.

Size

Wright is one of the smaller guards in this years class and that could force teams to draft bigger guards who — like we mentioned above — may have more upside. You’ll never hear me saying that a players height and weight is an issue though and the perfect example is Facundo Campazzo here in Denver with the Nuggets.

Campazzo is 5-foot-10 and weighs 194 points, which is pretty similar to Wright. Not only does Campazzo play with all-out effort on both ends of the floor, but he rarely lets his frame become an issue out on the floor. Wright is from that similar mold and could hopefully become the next smaller point guard to have success in the NBA.


Verdict

If the Nuggets want to add another guard to the mix, Wright should definitely be in the conversation if they trade back into the second round. Depending on where teams see Wright, the Nuggets may be able to get him late in the draft so they don't have to give up much to acquire him.

Another scenario that could play out is Wright goes undrafted and the Nuggets find a way to add him to their summer league squad. There should be no shortage of teams looking to add Wright if that becomes the case so I would expect the Nuggets to certainly have some competition if he isn't selected on Thursday night.

Regardless of whether it’s here in Denver or with some other team it would be awesome to see Wright carve out a nice little NBA career for himself. Wright did so much for the city of Boulder and did some incredible things during his time at the University of Colorado, which makes it tough to see him leave but it’s also exciting to see what’s to come. The University of Colorado has put out some pretty good NBA talent over the last decade and hopefully Wright is the next player you can add to that list.