clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Antoine Wright In Venezuela: What Happens When Being A First Round Pick Isn't Good Enough

New, 1 comment

There are many uncertainties about the fast approaching 2012 NBA Draft in June aside from Anthony Davis being the undisputed projected first overall pick.

But when it comes to some of the other future first round selections, there is always a story down the road where the journey from college to the league just doesn't go according to plan. All the draft prep work on the players part, scouting reports from NBA teams and pre-draft workouts between the two parties suddenly turns into a crapshoot.

Throughout the history of the NBA draft it has become as constant as a walk across the stage to shake David Stern's hand.

They are labeled busts. They bounce around and out of the league. They head overseas to find themselves. They even end up coaching high school basketball.

Kirk Haston was selected 16th overall by the Charlotte Hornets in 2001 as a junior out of Indiana. The 6-foot-9 forward averaged just 1.2 points per game in 27 games, saw time with the Philadelphia 76ers, played in the D-League and overseas in Italy before becoming a high school basketball coach in 2010 at Perry County High School, his alma matter in Linden, Tennessee.

When the Denver Nuggets took Nikoloz Tskitishvili with the 5th overall pick in 2002, some analysts believed the 7-foot center was the league's next superior big man. Instead, the word "bust" followed him from Golden State to Minnesota to New York to overseas where his international hoops resume reads like an entry on Trip After leaving the NBA in 2006, Tskitishvili has balled in Spain, Italy, back to Spain, Greece, back to Spain, and today in Iran.

Reece Gaines anyone?

From the 15th overall pick in 2003 by the Orlando Magic, to an overseas vagabond in Greece, Spain, France, Austria and Venezuela.

In 2004, well, it's a toss up between Luke Jackson (10th, Cleveland Cavaliers) and Robert Swift (12th, Seattle SuperSonics). Injuries got the best of them -- bad back for Jackson, ACL for Swift -- but each continues to play abroad with Jackson in Israel and Swift playing in Japan.

Take your pick. Or maybe don't.

Because six years after being selected 15th overall by the New Jersey Nets in 2005, Antoine Wright is experiencing what life is like outside of the NBA at 28-years old.

Much like Gaines, Wright now calls Venezuela home.

The 6-foot-7 swing guard out of Texas A&M signed with Guaiqueries de Margarita for rest of the LPB (Liga Profesional de Baloncesto) season on Wednesday, leaving behind his brief stint with the Reno Big Horns, where he averaged 17.7 points, 5.6 rebounds and 2.9 assists in 10 games.

The Big Horns acquired the NBA veteran from a player pool after he played six seasons in the league between New Jersey, Dallas, Toronto and Sacramento, averaging 5.3 points, 2.3 rebounds and 1.0 assists per game over his NBA career. Trips to Spain and China are part of his basketball journey, as are the red flags surrounding his knee tendinitis and previous DUI during his Sacramento days.

There was also a personal rift with then Kings' assistant coach Mario Ellie that Wright believes led to his ousting in Sacramento and relegation to the CBA with Jiangsu Nangang Dragons. However, looking back the situation actually became a chance for Wright to grow personally and professionally and realize at the end of the day the NBA is still a business.

And business was actually pretty good once Wright stepped outside of the league.

He was dubbed a franchise savior after averaging around 21 points, six rebounds and four assists per game for the Dragons, who were in the thick of a postseason battle in the CBA. Even when Wright moved on to Asefa Estudiantes Madrid in Spain's ACB league after China, his numbers were decent during a 13 game stretch (10.9 points and 2.8 rebounds). But sometimes that doesn't necessarily translate to the NBA.

Wright worked out with the San Antonio Spurs, Charlotte Bobcats and Chicago Bulls last June but failed to land a gig, and eventually signed with Reno as part of a plan to make it back to the NBA.

Racking up frequent flier miles and a new perspective about the NBA through his time in and out of the league, Wright becomes a gun-for-hire in Venezuela. They hope Wright can duplicate his numbers from his time in China, while Wright simply looks for another chance to overcome being a first round draft pick side story.

Is it too little too late?

Only Wright knows that answer.