On top of all the Shuffle Draft action from the Challenger division on Thursday, there was a Premier division trade that was made. The Milwaukee Mashers traded DJ Young to Frisco Clean Cause for Matt Wright. Unlike the Challenger division, there are limited options out there for the struggling Premier teams to find their way out of a hole. The struggling teams are most likely limited to potential trades with other struggling teams because there is a feeling of a need to do something. This is exactly what led to Thursday’s trade that mostly makes sense for both teams, but gives a far greater benefit to one over the other.
Let’s start with Milwaukee. They selected DJ Young in the 4th round and acquire Matt Wright, who was selected as the first pick of round 2. DJ Young was seen by us as a potential value pick that late in the draft, but the Mashers haven’t been able to work things out as a team. Their women, Callie Smith and Lucy Kovalova, have been far from dominant, and DJ Young has not won mixed matches. DJ was the obvious choice to move for Milwaukee as Lucy/Callie have been getting some results together recently and Daescu is too good to move. The Mashers were able to capitalize on the desperation of Clean Cause to find a player who is a clear upgrade, at least on paper, in both men’s and mixed.
Matt Wright was a tough evaluation prior to the draft and he remains an enigma. He was drafted into a terrible situation that may have lead him to mentally check out of a certain level of focus and energy that is needed for MLP. We had never seen Wright play at MLP and the early returns in 2023 have not been good. That being said, watching some of Clean Causes matches back, there are times when you can see that Wright’s personality is kind of built for MLP. If he had a more competitive team, you would probably be getting a lot more trash talking and a higher compete level from the attorney who does not need pro pickleball to make a living. On the other hand, there are 6 players in the world regularly in the mix for a men’s doubles gold at a PPA event and Matt Wright is one of them.
Wright is now in a situation where he should be motivated. He’ll get to play men’s with Andrei Daescu, which puts the Mashers at a top 3 men’s team in Premier. He’ll get to play with his regular partner, Lucy Kovalova, as a 1(a) or 1(b) mixed team. Although DJ Young isn’t a good Dreambreaker player, Matt Wright is definitely worse. He looked exactly as you would expect him to in Daytona, but it is worth the risk for the upgrade in doubles. This is a huge win for the Mashers.
For Frisco, the prevailing wisdom is that they had to do something. While we may not disagree with this move, when the best case you can make for a trade is that you had to change something up, that might not get you very far. For whatever reason, Matt Wright/Zane Navratil couldn’t make it work so this may be a push at worst for DJ/Zane as they have played some recent tournaments together, or even an upgrade on the version of Matt Wright that Clean Cause was getting. Matt Wright looked checked out playing mixed for Clean Cause but another guy who can check out is DJ Young. DJ needs to be motivated if he wants to cement his Premier spot, but Young’s mixed play continues to leave much to be desired. If Young is engaged, it actually could be an upgrade overall regardless of whether Matt finds his higher level with Milwaukee.
It can’t get much worse out there for Frisco, but DJ Young is a downgrade over the non-MLP version of Wright, other than for a Dreambreaker situation. Maybe a change of scenery for DJ and a trade breathes some life into the rest of the Frisco team. The problem is that they aren’t that good overall. Yana Grechkina, who has had some good results as of late, and Lina Padegimaite are both fringe Premier talents while Zane is a middle of the pack guy stuck in a lead dog role with another fringe Premier male. That’s not a winning recipe.
This is a trade made out of necessity for both teams. The Mashers are fortunate that they were in a power position and were able to wait until Clean Cause was out of options to do something before the final event of the year.
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