Delon Wright wasn’t a top-10 draft pick, he won’t be making $20 million per season, and, hey, maybe he won’t even be a starter. The acquisition of Wright from the Dallas Mavericks might be under the radar, but in the end it could have as big an impact on Detroit’s season as any other addition.
While Jerami Grant will be looked on to take on a larger load, and all eyes are on rookie point guard Killian Hayes, Wright could be the key that unlocks the season, and helps tap into success on the court for the rookies like Hayes and Saddiq Bey as well as veterans like Grant, Mason Plumlee and incumbent Blake Griffin.
Dwane Casey calls him his “swiss army knife,” and this season he might be asked to do it all. Help Derrick Rose mentor Hayes. Check. Start if the rookie is struggling and the team needs a lift. Check. Play off the ball as a safety valve and someone who can make sure the offense doesn’t grind down to a halt. Check. Provide support off the bench in a reduced role if Svi Mykhailiuk is hitting shots and Hayes and Rose hit the ground running as the primary point guards. Check. A security blanket for a coach with a completely new roster. Check.
“I’ve always had eyes on (Wright) from afar,” Casey said at Pistons media day. Casey groomed Wright and coached him for the guard’s first three seasons. Casey eventually was fired and Wright went from the Raptors to the Grizzlies to the Mavericks. Now, they are reunited in Detroit, and you can tell his former coach couldn’t be happier.
“He gives us a third point guard slash two that can play different positions,” Casey said. “He knows the system. He knows the terminology. We’re running the same things we ran [in Toronto]. It’s an easier move or adjustment for him,” Casey said.
It seems like a perfect match, and one that is a long-time coming. Wright says once it seemed like his future might not be in Toronto long-term, he tried to get into Detroit and back with Casey.
It took longer than anticipated, but he likes his opportunity in Motown.
“I think it’s a great opportunity for me to grow with the organization,” Wright said, noting he looks forward to having the ball in his hands more than he did as mostly a 3-and-D player in Dallas who was forced to live off corner threes.
“I like having the ball in my hands a little bit. Not even to score, but to play-make and keep my rhythm going,” Wright said. In Detroit, he’ll have that opportunity both as a lead guard and an off guard as Casey loves to run two- and sometimes even three point guards on the floor at once.
Wright knows his job is to work with both Derrick and Killian, and he says he can do that in several ways. “I can offensive reboudn, I cut well, I hit spot ups.”
Perhaps most importantly, he knows how to take care of the ball. He has averaged 1 turnover per game in his five-year career playing both guard positions. On a team expected to play a teenaged rookie point guard major minutes, that steadying influence could be vital.
And with Casey only returning a handful of players from last year’s team, Delon Wright has actually spent more time in Casey’s offense than any other player in the organization. Defense, decent size, quality decision-making, the ability to do all the little things.
Wright might not have been the biggest signing of the offseason, but he could play one of the biggest roles in ensuring the team is competitive on a nightly basis, and really help in the development of rookies like Hayes, forward Saddiq Bey and big man Isaiah Stewart. He knows what to do on the floor, and has been a plus player on the court everywhere he has been.