So that one came a little bit out of left field. Going into the draft, Point Guard was probably the most settled position on the Raptors' squad. Kyle Lowry, Greivis Vasquez and Lou Williams made for a solid backcourt rotation last year, so most assumed that the Raptors would be addressing the wing or front court in the draft.
Masai Ujiri obviously had something to say about that. Two years after stealing a first round pick for Andrea Bargnani, Ujiri pulled a rabbit out of the hat once again in prying away another lottery-protected first rounder from the Milwaukee Bucks for Greivis Vasquez.
BUT this isn't the time to reflect on Greivis Vasquez as he shimmies his way out of town. Nor is it the time to look at the implications on the Raptors' cap situation. Over the next couple of days, we'll be churning out content to look at every possible angle of last night's events since we've been starving for content. But this is Delon Wright's moment in the spotlight. Who is he as a player? What does he bring to the table? Let's get into it.
Date of Birth: April 26, 1992
Position: Point Guard
Weight: 181 lbs
2014-15 Stats: 33.6 mins, 14.7 pts, 5.0 assists, 5.0 rebs, 2.1 stls, 1 blk, 50.5 FG%, 35.6 3FG%, 83.5 FT%
Delon Wright is one of the older players in this draft. He's had a bit of a journey to get to this point in his career -- actually him working his way into draft consideration is a surprise in itself. As you've probably read by now, Delon's actually the younger brother of sharpshooter Dorell Wright, who has carved out a nice niche for himself in the NBA. Unlike Dorell (once a top-15 national recruit), Delon wasn't a highly sought-after prospect, due to academic issues.
As a result, he spent the first two years of his college eligibility in the JUCO circuit playing for the City College of San Francisco. Having redeemed some of his NCAA value, Wright committed to the Utah Utes as an under-the-radar signing. Two ultra productive seasons later, Wright has worked himself into a top-20 pick in the NBA draft, and now heads to the Great White North as their shiny, new backup guard.
The accolades he's picked up along the way speak volumes about his game.
- Cousy Award for the Nation's best PG
- 2x Pac-12 All-Defensive Team
- 2nd Team All-American
- 2x First Team All-Pac-12
First and foremost, Delon Wright's a really, really strong defensive player. All productive NCAA players on good teams tend to have skewed plus/minus numbers but Wright graded out with an insane net rating of 42.1 (129.8 ORTG, 87.7 DRTG). Standing 6'6, with an 8'6 standing reach, Wright has the length to defend both backcourt positions. Combine that with his high motor and great defensive instincts, there's a lot to like about him for a team that's struggled to contain the point of attack on the perimeter.
Man, Delon Wright is a ninja in passing lanes.— Hardwood Paroxysm (@HPbasketball) June 21, 2015
These sorts of plays were routine during his time in Utah:
Delon's offensive game is a work in progress.The biggest concern is his shooting. Although he only shot 22% from 3 in his first year in Utah, he improved that to a much more respectable 35.6% in his second and final year. Because his shooting is inconsistent, and he only takes 2.1 3-point attempts per game, it's remarkable that he managed to have a TS% of over 60 for both his seasons at Utah. There are two main reasons for this -- one is that he's always in attack mode and gets to the free throw line at a very good rate for a point guard (over 5 attempts/game). The second is how crafty he is within the three point line. Wright shot a ridiculous 63% and 55% on his two point attempts.
The video below does a good job highlighting his intelligence with the ball.
There's a lot to like about Wright. Consider that he had a Usage rate of 23% last year, and handled the ball on virtually every offensive possession for a frisky Utah team, and still only put up 1.9 turnovers per game. Another great thing about him is that it's not like he just feasted on weak competition for the whole year. Wright more than held his own when he came up against top-notch competition. Take a look at these games:
vs Kansas -- 9-13 FGs, 23 pts, 5 rebs, 4 assists, 4 steals.
vs Wichita State -- 6-13 FGs, 13 pts, 7 assists, 6 rebs.
@ Arizona State -- 4-11 FGs, 12-12 FTs, 21 pts, 6 assists.
@ Oregon -- 6-9 FGs, 20 pts, 5 assists, 3 steals.
vs UCLA -- 4-8 FGs, 11 pts, 7 rebs, 5 assists, 4 steals.
That's not to say there aren't concerns about his game either - there's a reason he dropped to 20. Because he's already 23, there's good reason to wonder how much development is left for him physically. He only weighs 181 lbs currently and his lack of strength will be an issue at the NBA level. If his shooting doesn't develop further, teams will just sag off him in order to keep his crafty dribble out of the paint. Lastly, he was such a high usage college player, it remains to be seen how he'll transition to a more complementary role he's destined for in the NBA. Can he be as effective without the ball in his hands all the time?
I have no delusions of grandeur about Delon Wright. He has weaknesses that limit his ceiling considerably, but there's a lot to like about him as a prospect. I'm excited by the idea of having a competent defensive backcourt rotation. If he learns to lean on his teammates, his feel for the game can be a great asset for the Raptors. He's safe with the ball, and has a wide array of hesitation dribble moves to create space for himself. He's an ultra-efficient point guard who stuffs the stat-sheet. We've been sold on players who ooze athleticism or have unlimited ceiling many times before, but this draft was a change in strategy for Masai Ujiri. In Delon Wright, he's gone for the older, NBA-ready, steady point guard with the high motor. I'm a fan.