The NBA off-season has evolved. Fans now clamor for marquee names that will bring swagger and bravado to their clubs reputation. The appreciation for thoughtful team building based on continuity no longer exist.
This is why the recent addition of Delon Wright was met with ripe cynicism. Let’s examine just how this unknown piece fits. Who is Delon Wright?
In each of his two seasons at Utah, Wright was named All-Pac-12 First Team as well as All-Pac-12 Defensive team. Delon cemented his collegiate dominance by winning the 2015 Bob Cousy Award. Which is annually given to the nations best point guard. Teammate Jalen Brunson also won the award in 2017-18.
The Mavericks should be very familiar with Wright. In 2015 he was a likely draft prospect for the team. This was unfortunately derailed as Toronto drafted him 20th overall just one pick prior to the Mavs selection, Justin Anderson.
Delon is no stranger to the NBA. His older brother Dorell Wright, was drafted 19th overall in 2004 absent any college experience. Dorell played 11 seasons with four different clubs. Although their entry into the league couldn’t be more different the South Central LA natives remain close. A 2018 piece by Vice describes how the brothers’ unwavering support for one another is essential to Delon’s success. Contrary to Dorell’s hoops career Delon was unheralded out of high school. He attended prep school and junior college before playing with the Utes. With these facts its safe to say the younger Wright is a later bloomer. This is welcomed news to a Mavericks organization searching for an edge.
To this point, the former Grizzlies reserve has enjoyed a relatively mundane NBA career. Stints in Toronto and Memphis tend to have that impact on a career. In three and half seasons with the Raptors Delon never averaged more than 8.0 ppg, 2.9 apg, and 2.9 rpg. However, in 2017-18 he reached a minute per game peak averaging 20.8 per game. This was good for 5th on the squad.
The Raptors would go on to have a very successful regular season. This proved insignificant as the team was swept by the Cavaliers in the second round of the playoffs. In just his third season Delon established himself as an essential member of the Raptors rotation. This is noteworthy considering the team’s overall success as regular-season eastern conference champs.
The 2018-19 season saw Wright become an essential piece to the blockbuster trade that sent three-time All-Star Marc Gasol to the Raptors. Memphis received Wright, Jonas Valanciunas, C.J. Miles and a second-round draft pick. In 26 games with the Grizzlies Delon started in 11 matches. Averaging 30.8 minutes in those contest. As the season dwindled to a close Wrights production increased just like his minutes per game. Increased averages of 12.2 ppg, 5.4 RPG, 5.3 APG, and 1.6 SPG was enough to garner attention from around the league.
From the outset, it seemed the trade would extend an even bigger opportunity to Delon. Allowing him to showcase his value to Memphis and other potential suitors. Not to mention playing in the Southwest Division gave Mavericks brass a front-row seat to all the action.
On April 5, 2019, Wright recorded his first of three career triple-doubles. Two of which are versus the Mavericks. On this date, however, he torched the Mavs sporting a stat line of 26 points, 14 assist, and 10 rebounds. The Grizzlies would go on to win the game 122-112.
Just two nights later Delon was back at it. Fulfilling all irony against the Mavericks he again destroyed the squad putting up 20 points, 12 assist, and 13 rebounds in an eventual 129-127 loss. Even though the win was stressful and uncertain Cuban and company would be considered moronic if they didn’t at least probe the market after witnessing these two triple-doubles.
Wright’s potential emergence in Memphis was unhinged when they were awarded the second pick in the 2019 draft. This triggered a trade of Mike Conley to Utah. The later cleared the way for the Grizzlies to select Ja Morant second overall. Yes, another point guard. This immediately made Wright vulnerable and more importantly expendable. Despite Delon’s continued improvement, it became abundantly clear the Grizzlies were prepared to move on.
On July 7th Adrian Wojnarowski dropped one of his signature bombs announcing the sign-and-trade of Delon Wright.
Sources: Memphis and Dallas are agreed on a sign-and-trade for G Delon Wright. Dallas will send Memphis two second-round picks.
— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) July 7, 2019
Far from headline-worthy news, many wrote this signing off as customary roster management. However, the Mavericks view Delon as a plug and play facilitator perfectly suited to make his teammates better. His addition is far from bulletproof as there are areas of his game that must improve. Namely a career three point field goal percentage of .33%. There is little solace hidden in these numbers. Last year he attempted a career-high 168 three-point field goals. Shooting a measly .28% on those attempts. It’s worth stating the Mavericks shouldn’t be depending on Delon’s three-point production. If at any point this is the case it would be safe to assume the season is headed towards disaster.
Next season the Mavericks are projected to be deeper and more talented at the point guard position. Jalen Brunson, Seth Curry, JJ Barea, Trey Burke and Devin Harris all have valuable experience filling this role. Delon’s insertion only strengthens the group.
Making this move even more ideal is a rare characteristic only a few players possess. The former reserve has been successful without being ball dominate. Like his previous stops the Mavericks have secured that role. A quick review of his career usage rates solidifies this point. A meager career-high of just 22.1% was tallied his first year in the league. While with Toronto Wright was able to effectively increase is playing time while appeasing his more ball dominate teammates. His signing with the Mavs addresses a significant team need.
A signing like this continues to suggest that absolving Luka Doncic of some (if not all) defensive responsibility on the perimeter is key. As the league progresses to a more position-less brand of basketball hiding him defensively is increasingly more difficult. However, ensuring Doncic has the stamina to produce offensively is directly related to his energy output on the defensive end. Delon’s addition aids in keeping those potential defensive woes at bay. Signing Wright is about protecting Luka. Essentially shielding him from major defensive roles afforded to most top tier players. Next season arguably the most dependent component to the Maverick’s success is leaving Doncic free to create more “magic”. This aspect of Wrights signing is severely under-represented.
The hope is for Delon to continue a pattern of blossoming late. The basis of the clubs optimism is his defensive acumen. The club is extremely confident he can carve out a significant role on the team. His contract suggest as much.
The Mavericks value his defensive consistency and will be depending on it next season. Couple this with his ability to distribute and facilitate without dominating the ball and his acquisition could be a perfect fit.
Stats: www.Basketball-Reference.com, www.sports-reference.com Photo: www.Mavs.com YouTube: FreeDawKins Twitter: Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) Reference: www.Vice.com