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2018-19 Player Preview: Delon Wright, what’s next?

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Entering the last year of his rookie-scale contract, what can the Raptors expect from Delon Wright?

NBA: Preseason-Toronto Raptors at Utah Jazz Russ Isabella-USA TODAY Sports

When he isn’t eating raw lamb brains, Delon Wright is slashing and slithering against NBA defenses for the Toronto Raptors. He’s an excellent defender who can defend both guard positions and the occasional forward. He’s improved every single year in his short career and now he’s entering the last year on his contract.

Delon isn’t a question mark anymore. We know what he brings to the table for Toronto. And when the season starts, while all eyes will understandably go to the new star on the team, Wright can still do some amazing things.

If there is a question left to ask, it’s this: what can Toronto expect from Delon this year?

The Good

Delon Wright’s last season was his best to date. His numbers improved across the board in a year where he played a career high 69 games. He was involved in the game changing “Bench Mob” with Fred VanVleet, C.J. Miles, Pascal Siakam, and Jakob Poeltl. (The latter is the underrated part of the Kawhi Leonard deal, and I think he’ll be the starting centre for San Antonio by the All-star Break.) He showed improved decision-making and three-point stroke. Delon did the things he needed to do.

Wright is the glue guy for that fantastic bench unit. His ability to effortlessly switch between the one and two-spot gives coach Nick Nurse the freedom to experiment (and we know how much he apparently loves to do that!). Wright can play with the starters just as well as he plays with the bench. Remember: it was Delon who was closing games with the starters against Washington in the playoffs last season. His positional versatility defensively matched with his improved all-around attack gives him a great chance to impress in what could be his most important season to date.

Let’s not forget, Delon is already wowing with his play. Take a look at this very impressive block against the Trail Blazers in preseason action.

The So-So

There’s Fred VanVleet, Kyle Lowry, Danny Green, Norman Powell, Delon Wright, and to a certain extent Lorenzo Brown, all capable of playing considerable minutes for two positions. When the season starts, its all but set in stone that the starters are Kyle and Danny.

But here is the tricky part. Fred, Delon, and Norm will be competing for two spots. For the deepest Raptors team in franchise history, a bad week can drop you from the rotation. We’ve seen what happens when someone gets injured (See Norm last season), misses time, comes back but can’t get back into the lineup because of how well the team is doing. Expectation is that Norm bounces back this year so now we have a rotation problem. Delon’s injury history can hurt him, as he has yet to play over 70 games in a season. But also here is where his positional versatility can help him. Unlike Fred who can only play point guard, and Norm who skews towards the two and three-spot, Delon can play both guard positions.

Final Verdict

Wright is a restricted free agent next summer. At 26 years old, he’s entering the prime of his career and will be getting that second NBA contract. In a guard heavy league, Delon would be a capable starter given the opportunity. Still, can he get it with Toronto? What is yet to be seen is what he can offer this season. If he continues his yearly improvement and comes into the season as a better shooter, with more confidence, and a stronger body — which can help him lose that “injury prone” marker hes had for years — there is no doubt a player of his calibre can contribute deep into May. If he shows something more, such as hitting 40 percent from deep on, say, five attempts per game, maybe he’d even play in June.

What I hope, and most of you can agree with this, is that Delon plays at least 75 games this season. He is one the league’s best kept secrets and it would be a shame to see him miss out on a good contract because of injury concerns. Even if that means him leaving Toronto (you guys have no idea how much I miss Bismack Biyombo), Delon can be an excellent player in the league for years to come.