This season, thanks to changes on the Raptors’ depth chart and a clean bill of health, Delon Wright was all set for a breakout. The third year guard, now at 26 years old, knew he was going to get a lot more playing time for the entirety of the season. Wright was going to back-up Kyle Lowry, he was going to play with and without the ball, and he was going to have to carry his weight.
At the end of the season, it’s fair to say Wright accomplished all of those goals. He did the things he was supposed to do — and also some Fun and Good things we maybe didn’t quite expect from him.
The questions, as always, with Wright remain: just what does Toronto have with this lanky, sneaky, and surprising player? And what, if anything, is he capable of next? Let’s review.
At his best, Wright offers the possibility of, well, everything. Need a backcourt player to switch gamely across a few positions? There’s Delon. Need someone to create some offense from nothing? There’s Delon. Need a striking pass, or a sudden steal, or a surprise block? There’s Delon. For a league now treasuring a jackknife skill-set, players who can seemingly do a little bit of everything on the floor, Wright is a gift for Toronto.
This season with the Raptors, his first (almost) full year, Wright played in 69 nice games, starting in four of them. His averages, as one would hope and expect, took a relative jump as a result: In 20.8 minutes per game, Wright put in 8.0 points per game, dished 2.9 assists, grabbed 2.9 rebounds, and averaged 1.0 steals and 0.5 blocks — like I said, a little bit of everything was on display.
The biggest knock on Wright’s game coming into the season was his shooting. As if to prove the doubters wrong, Wright managed to shoot 46.5 percent from the field, including 36.6 percent from three (on 2.2 attempts per game), and 82.9 percent from the line for good measure. And wouldn’t you know it, Delon’s true shooting percentage (TS%) of 57.4 percent was sixth on the team (for those with more than 500 minutes played). He was ranked second amongst the Raptors’ non-frontcourt players, behind only Kyle Lowry (at 59.8 percent) — only one of the more efficient players in the league.
Not bad for a third year guard playing what amounted to his first heavy load of minutes. Delon’s court time tripled this year, and one thing was clear: Wright can handle it.
For all the things Wright does do for Toronto, it sometimes feels like he needs to be more consistent with his presence. That is to say: sometimes Delon disappears. When a player is described the way he is — as a strange, ineffable force — this is bound to happen. And while sometimes contributions beyond the box score are good and necessary for a team, it wouldn’t hurt to see Wright assert himself more often in games. Maybe that will come in time, maybe it’s just not in his personality.
Likewise with Wright’s shooting. We saw it most prominently in the playoffs when Wright’s sometimes shaky confidence would couple with his ineffectiveness beyond the three-point line. The Raptors need Delon to rise and fire when he’s open with the ball. There were times when he did just that (again, the playoffs come to mind, see: the Wizards series), but there were many times when he did not. Or he did, but it didn’t amount to much. Wright’s shooting is still very much a mechanical process — not automatic like the best shooters in the game.
Before the season, Wright said his goal was to average one 3-pointer a game. He managed to make it to 0.8, just missing the mark. Still, with the direction the league is going, the Raptors may need even more than one — think two 3s a game, at least. This is all still within the realm of possibility for Delon, but the concrete is starting to set on his career. Next season, going on 27, the Raptors may know exactly what they have with Wright.
The Grade: B+
The playoffs shouldn’t sum up the season of every Raptor, but it was disheartening to see Wright get bullied for chunks of the post-season. Yes, his minutes on average went up in the playoffs, and he did have some standout games, but it was also clear Toronto missed something without Fred VanVleet in there.
Still, that’s not to say Wright’s season (and some of his playoff performances) were for naught. If nothing else, Wright showed that he can be a competent floor general, and a positive force on both ends for the Raptors. There are issues of confidence, shooting, and general durability, but there’s also every reason to expect Delon will continue on as a solid, versatile player for Toronto.
Is he the guy to replace Lowry in a couple of years as the starting point guard? No, probably not — but that doesn’t mean he’s not a good player to have on the Raptors.