Moses Wright is advancing upon his NBA dream, ‘step by step’

Georgia Tech's Moses Wright participates in the NBA Draft Combine Thursday, June 24, 2021, at the Wintrust Arena in Chicago. (Charles Rex Arbogast/AP)

Credit: Charles Rex Arbogast

Credit: Charles Rex Arbogast

Georgia Tech's Moses Wright participates in the NBA Draft Combine Thursday, June 24, 2021, at the Wintrust Arena in Chicago. (Charles Rex Arbogast/AP)

The start of his professional career didn’t go as planned. Several months in, Moses Wright has steered it in the right direction.

The former Georgia Tech star now is in the employ of the Dallas Mavericks, who signed him to a two-way contract near the end of February that allows him to play for both the NBA team and its G League affiliate after he had impressed with the Los Angeles Clippers’ G League team. After spending some time with the Mavericks, Wright has begun playing for the Texas Legends.

“It feels great,” Wright told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. “It’s been an experience, even though I’m not all the way there yet. Getting closer step by step, though.”

While he was named ACC player of the year and performed well in pre-draft workouts, Wright was not selected in the 60-player NBA draft in July. The hope then was that he would sign a two-way deal, as teammate Jose Alvarado did with the New Orleans Pelicans, and gain a foothold into the league. That didn’t happen, either. He first agreed to play in the NBA summer league with the Toronto Raptors, then switched to the Pelicans to rejoin Alvarado.

After no two-way deal was offered then, he went to training camp with the Clippers with the hope of earning a two-way deal in the preseason. That didn’t happen either, but the Clippers did sign him to play for their G League team, the Agua Caliente Clippers.

“They felt like I was an NBA player,” Wright said of the Clippers. “They gave me things to work on, and I worked on ‘em, and it got me this opportunity.”

It was a start, though not the one he had envisioned for himself.

“Coming off winning ACC player of the year, you automatically think that you’re going to have a lot of stuff laid out,” Wright said. “But like, not getting drafted and everything put more of a chip on my shoulder. It just adds to the Moses Wright story.”

Wright’s path has strayed from convention. As has become part of Tech lore, Wright played one season of varsity basketball in high school and drew scant recruiting attention, then received spotty playing time as a freshman and sophomore as he drew the frustration of coach Josh Pastner for his inconsistency of effort. But he turned the corner and as a senior became the second player in Tech history to be named ACC player of the year in leading the Yellow Jackets to the ACC championship and NCAA Tournament.

With the G League Clippers, Wright was touched by serendipity. The team is coached by former Tech coach Paul Hewitt, whose staff includes former Yellow Jackets assistant coach Darryl LaBarrie. It was LaBarrie who, as a member of Pastner’s staff, was the one who was first sold on Wright and then convinced Pastner to offer him a scholarship when he was practically an unknown.

With the Clippers, LaBarrie invested himself into Wright, working on developing his skills before and after practice – “everything; shooting, ballhandling, just tightening up the whole game,” Wright said.

“It was a little like being back at Tech again.”

The work paid off. In 17 games with the G League Clippers, Wright averaged 17.7 points, 8.9 rebounds, two blocks and 1.9 assists while shooting 58.5% from the field. He played well enough that the NBA Clippers signed him to a 10-day hardship contract in December, a stint that was abbreviated when Wright tested positive for COVID-19. (It was the second time that the coronavirus had derailed a huge opportunity for him, following his positive test just before the start of the NCAA Tournament in March 2021.) He did play in his first NBA game, logging 88 seconds and recording one assist in a Clippers win Dec. 22 over Sacramento.

“I only got a minute and a half, so it wasn’t like an ‘I made it’ feeling,” he said. “We can talk about that when I get 10 minutes, five minutes. It’ll be like, OK, I made it.”

But his play in the G League led to the Mavericks offering him a two-way deal, the same that Alvarado received from the Pelicans. After signing, Wright spent a few days with the Mavericks to get acclimated with the organization, time that included a flight back to Dallas from Los Angeles aboard the team charter after he joined the team on the West Coast.

“It’s amazing,” he said. “They have their own plane. Basically, you have your own bed. That’s how much space is up there.”

He has since begun playing with the Legends, based outside of Dallas in Frisco. The player he has nudged out of the starting lineup – former Tech center James Banks.

“Everywhere I go, it seems like there’s a Yellow Jacket,” Wright said.

In Wright’s first two game with the Legends – he was to play Saturday night – he had scored 39 points with 20 rebounds. Wright knows there is more work to do. He recognized that he is still challenged to play at the highest level of effort in all games.

“Now I’ve got to cut that narrative out and just play like an NBA player all the time,” he said.

The dream of an NBA career is closer than ever, closer than few could have imagined not so long ago.

“That’s all this is right now, an opportunity to show everybody what I’m capable of,” Wright said.