Part of the Marc Gasol trade, Delon Wright has played his last game with the Toronto Raptors. We look back at his brief Raptor career.
It’s a trade you have to make. Delon Wright, Jonas Valanciunas, C.J. Miles were all outcasted as part of a deal for Marc Gasol. A deal in which Delon Wright was the sweetener. His career wasn’t long. However, considering his production and the return he brought, Delon Wright was a success story.
The former 20th overall pick was drafted as a 23-year-old prospect. He showed flashes during his first two seasons, was a key player last season, and helped Toronto land a big fish, all under his rookie contract. Delon likely wasn’t going to return to Toronto next season, so while he will be missed, his departure does make sense.
His first two seasons
Delon was drafted out of the University of Utah after his sophomore season. A consensus All-American, there was no questioning Wright’s talent. An older player from a smaller conference, some questioned his ability to translate it to the NBA.
Masai Ujiri didn’t. He landed Wright with the 20th overall pick. Wright serves as one of his many successes in that range.
During his first two seasons, Wright played sparingly. He appeared in just 27 games as a rookie. He was injured to start his second season. When he returned he averaged 16 minutes per contest and showed flashes of a real NBA player.
His breakout year
Last season, Delon finally became the player everyone expected. He showed length and athleticism defensively while becoming a complete offensive player. He could get to the rim, create for others, and was even shooting greater than 36-percent from three.
To this day, Wright still has very few weaknesses as a player. That was never on greater display than during his time as a member of the famous “Bench Mob.”
Rather than continuing his trajectory to a becoming a starer-quality NBA point guard. Delon Wright took a major step back in his fourth season. His shooting percentage dropped, both from two and from three; he wasn’t creating for others as often; and mostly, he became hesitant.
He didn’t become an openly negative player on either end, but he did stop providing positive value. He became the hypothetical “replacement player” defined in so many statistics. Hopefully, Wright regains some of the aggression that helped him find success last season in Memphis.
Likely leaving anyway
Delon Wright will enter this postseason as a restricted free-agent, meaning the Memphis Grizzlies will be able to match whatever contract he signs on the open market. For Toronto, that wouldn’t have provided much value.
If Kawhi Leonard stays, the Raptors would likely be too far in the luxury tax to match a sizeable contract. If Kawhi leaves, the rebuild will start. Delon Wright will be 27 this offseason, that’s likely too old to be apart of any serious tear-down.
With the opportunity to significantly upgrade your team, and Delon likely leaving anyways, Toronto had to make this move. Still, no one should forget the success Delon Wright was as the 20th overall pick.