Moses Wright has had an atypical route to being an NBA draft prospect. Coming out of Enloe High School in Raleigh, North Carolina in 2017, he was rated a two-star or even unranked across various services and his only major conference offer came from Georgia Tech very late in the recruitment game. Wright was part of new coach Josh Pastner’s first full recruiting cycle upon becoming the head coach in 2016 on the flats.
Not many expected him to blossom into the force he has become in four short years. His rapid development on the court and in the training facilities helped Georgia Tech earn their first tournament bid since 2009-10 and their first ACC Championship since 1993.
As a fan and alumnus of Georgia Tech, I watched the majority of his college games and it certainly wasn’t an assumption he would develop into the player he is today. As a freshman, he was leaner and had raw skills in many aspects of his game and difficulties just dribbling and getting off clean shots.
Fast forward to his senior year and you’ll see he averaged 17.7 points, 8.2 rebounds and 1.7 blocks per 36 minutes while shooting en route to the second ever ACC Men’s Basketball Player of the Year award for a Yellow Jacket, with the only other one going to Dennis Scott in 1989-90. Needless to say it has been a meteoric rise for someone who was overlooked by all other major schools.
After beginning his career still finding his footage against college-level athletics, Wright learned to use his physicality and bounce to attack the rim off rolls and cuts, and he’s been among the country’s most dangerous big men off the move.
This next clip is a great example of his aggressive rim running. Wright loves to slip screens and crash toward the bucket knowing he’ll get rewarded. Watch the Red Sea part below:
Wright added a face up game over the years and can use a couple of dribbles to cross over and get to the rim. While his dribbling isn’t terribly refined nor can he navigate his handle in tight spaces, he can put the ball on the deck and get to his spots at times.
He has enough lift to pull up from midrange as well. While his range doesn’t quite extend into three-point range yet — 26-of-113 (23.0%) three-point shooting for his career — he knocks down mid-range attempts at a high enough rate to suggest he could get there one day.
It’s rare to see someone without an elite high school pedigree rapidly showcase the explosiveness Wright found in four seasons playing against ACC competition. His second jump for offensive rebounds is quick and springy. He’s become a terror on the offensive glass, posting a gaudy 11.3% OReb percentage, which placed him fourth in the ACC this past season.
He has good timing when leaping for defensive contests and block attempts. He didn’t step out a ton on perimeter players off of switches, but this block at the top of the key demonstrates his good reflexes.
His lateral movement improved year after year and possess pretty quick hands for someone his size. He finished with 1.5 steals per game, which was 6th best in the ACC — a great feat for a big man.
All in all, Wright was a force across the always difficult ACC schedule. He logged heavy minutes due to roster need, while arguably playing out of position as a center. Despite little herald and a lack of recent success in McCamish Pavilion, Wright brought energy, toughness and productivity almost every game night for a Yellow Jackets program that needed a breakthrough in a big way.
Weaknesses and areas of improvement
Moses Wright comes with a few worry areas, some of which he can overcome with time and practice in a professional setting. One big knock is that the route he took as a late bloomer led to him entering the draft at an advanced age for this class. He will turn 23 this December and will need to hit the ground running in his young NBA career.
Despite his physical gifts, he didn’t fight on the board or grab quite as many rebounds as would be expected in his situation. He was often the only big in a four or five-out offense, but his lack of feel for the game sometimes was most evident when needing to find a body.
These examples were numerous too. There were just too many times when Wright lost the man he was supposed to box out.
His raw rebounding numbers — 7.9 rebounds per 36 minutes for his career — were buoyed by the fact that often he was surrounded with four other perimeter-oriented guards and wings so he could stand to show a bit more fight in that area.
Over his seasons in midtown Atlanta, he developed a reliable outside shot, which will allow him to better stretch the floor with NBA spacing. But it’s still a work in progress, and his poor free throw shooting underlines that aspect of his game. As just a career 60.4% shooter from the line, he’s a liability in that area and that mark doesn’t offer a lot of optimism in his jump shooting upside.
There are some questions on defense as well, as his tweener size for a big and issues defending in space may expose him on that end. He came to Georgia Tech at 6’8” and grew to 6’9”, but at that height it takes elite awareness, length, and leaping ability to excel at center at the NBA level in an era of spacing. While Wright bullied most competition at this level, he won’t have that same athletic advantage going forward.
There are still some little details in seeing the floor for passes and setting good hard screens with his big body he could improve on. But he’s already proven to be able to add important layers to his game across his work in college. It’s too early to count out him polishing up those little aspects going forward.
Where could he fit on the Hawks?
At 6’9” and 233 lbs listed, he physically resembles Hawks two-way player Nathan Knight, and his productivity in his junior and senior seasons matched that of the recently undrafted player out of William and Mary.
Although he played center for the majority of his college career —first in backing up James Banks III, and then as the focal point of the offense in his senior year — he’ll most likely have to slide down to the power forward position primarily going forward, but could always moonlight at the five.
Wright will have to wait until the second round to have a chance at being selected in this draft based on most projections. The Hawks have the 48th pick or could extend an offer in undrafted free agency so there may be a value opportunity to keep him within I-285 to start his professional career.
The Hawks may need a young big man to groom, with questions over the long term status of John Collins, but Wright isn’t quite worth sinking a premium pick into. Still, there’s no doubt about the hard work he has put in thus far and any team should be thrilled to bring that kind of perseverance and diligent work ethic into their organization.