Toronto Raptors rookie point guard Delon Wright has played three games with the the 905 and it’s hard not to be impressed with his instant impact. He has filled his line in the boxscore and been an impact player for 905 head coach Jesse Mermuys. However, the Raptors expected this from Wright. They drafted him because he had four years of college experience and was perceived to be more NBA ready than the typical 19 or 20 year old player the team could have drafted 20th overall.
“That’s kind of his job,” Mermuys said after the 128-99 loss to Grand Rapids. “It’s hard for me to celebrate that because that is what is expected of him and really the expectations for him and for our organization from top down are higher than that. Coming down and being a starting point guard and representing our (Toronto) Raptors team, we expect to be winning. We expect him to be leading us and winning games. Although he did play hard through and we appreciate that, that is what we expect from him, so that’s nothing special. I would like to see him come down and lead us in supplying winning basketball and he definitely can’t do that by himself, but that’s the expectation.”
It’s going to be hard for Wright to impress Mermuys. His line of 15 points on 6-11 shooting from the field plus 6 rebounds, 8 assists and 2 steals isn’t anything special for a player on an NBA contract in the D-League. He’s here to develop the skills Raptors head coach Dwane Casey believes he needs so it might be possible to play him in an NBA game at some point.
The positive news from Wright’s third D-League tilt was Mermuys saw a marked improvement in what is perhaps the most important skill a rookie point guard needs to develop.
“The only positive right now I can think of was Delon Wright was much better at getting into the basketball on his pick-and-roll defense and that was an issue in his first two games,” Mermuys said. “I can visibly look in my head right now and watch him defend pick-and-rolls, seeing him more aggressive into the basketball which is a big positive for our organization. That’s a pretty quick turnaround in a short period of time, so that was nice to see, a bright spot.”
The Raptors lost to Grand Rapids almost entirely because of their 24 turnovers that became 37 points. Grand Rapids feasted on bad passes around the perimeter that they turned into easy fast break points. The good news for the Raptors was Wright didn’t have any of them.
Having a D-League team in Mississauga has been particularly good for Wright and the other players assigned by the Raptors to get playing time. They are close enough to be part of both teams, go to both Raptors and 905 games and practices. This could be the best investment the Raptors have ever made when it comes to developing players.