Miller: Make the “Wright” choice for Pac-12 POY

PAC 12 Awards 1

The Utes are a flawed team.

Their low post players are inconsistent, they rely too much on the deep ball and they’re home-court heroes, lacking any quality road victories. Yet, even with the many faults Utah has been ranked in the top 15 for much of the season, and have even made some cameos in the top 10.


The reason? Delon Wright.

For that, and also for the small detail of him being without question the best player in the conference, Wright should be the Pac-12 Player of the Year.

Sometimes though, voters do some silly things. After Arizona defeated Utah to essentially win the conference regular-season championship, The Daily Wildcats’ Roberto Payne wrote that Arizona point guard T.J. McConnell should be the front-runner to win the award. Payne said that Arizona coach Sean Miller mentioned after the Utah game that often the best player on the best team wins the award.

That argument is not only stupid, but it’s tiresome and doesn’t really stand up to history.

In the last 10 years, only five award winners have come from the team that finished at the top of the standings, and those five were pretty obvious selections: Nick Johnson, Derrick Williams, Kevin Love, Arron Afflalo and Josh Childress.

Go ahead, try to make the argument they shouldn’t have won it. Oh that’s right, you can’t. You know who can make a pretty solid argument against: Mr. McConnell.

Sure, he is a gritty guard that does a lot of things well. He dives on the floor, makes hustle plays and has a hand in a lot of what the ‘Cats do. But we’re talking Player of the Year here, and there is some thought to give it to a “hustle” guy? That adjective is usually reserved for the players that are, well, not stars.

McConnell simply doesn’t have an intimidation factor and if you take him off the ‘Cats and Arizona would still probably be just where they are now — soon to be conference champs with Stanley Johnson, Brandon Ashley, Gabe York and Rondae Hollis-Jefferson leading the way.

McConnell may be the straw that stirs the Wildcats’ drink, but let’s not be so naive to think that Miller, one of the best coaches in the nation, wouldn’t have found a way to make a handful of McDonald’s All-Americans play together.

Which brings us back to Utah. When the All-Conference teams are announced, would anyone really be surprised if Wright is the only Ute honored?

Brandon Taylor certainly has made a case for himself, but with the bevy of quality guards in the conference it won’t be hard for the voters to overlook Taylor.

And yet, even without a secondary star, Wright has led the Utes near the top of the Pac-12 and a missed block out away from playing for a share of the conference crown this weekend.

Take Wright off of the Utes and you have a middle of the road Pac-12 team. Sure, Krystkowiak would make the defense stingy sans Wright, and the Utes have enough playmakers that they would find a way to win some games, but they would be no where close to a top-15 team, and there certainly wouldn’t be much talk about Utah being a Final Four sleeper.

Could you imagine Wright playing with the cast that surrounds McConnell? Yeah, it wouldn’t be fair to the rest of the country, let alone the conference.

McConnell got the win on Saturday and his team will be crowned regular season champions, but that doesn’t make him the Player of the Year.

That distinction is Wright’s, and really it’s not even close.

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