When a young player puts up a line of 25 points, 4 three-balls, 13 rebounds, 5 assists, 4 steals and a block for his first ever double-double in a meaningful mid-season game it gets noticed, but it doesn’t mean they have broken out. However, Delon Wright’s big night didn’t just happen, for him it’s been a rough road thru injuries, internal competition and the lower expectations that come with being a late first round draft pick.
Wright was both a seemingly unstoppable offensive force and a disruptive defensive presence during the Raptors first win in Chicago over the Bulls since 2013. His efforts were only slightly overshadowed by DeMar DeRozan’s 35 points, but this night was something we should have saw coming.
Since the start of November Wright has been shooting the ball exceptionally well and month off between mid-November and mid December to rest his second shoulder injury in two seasons hasn’t slowed him down at all. If anything, Wright has significantly improved since his return, his play at both ends of the court commanding an increased role off the bench, and everyone in the organization is telling him to shoot more.
“Everybody, even people in the top of the organization, everyone, just shoot the ball, we don’t care if you miss,” Wright said after the game.
Those requests to shoot more were not being made gratuitously. In November Wright was shooting 75 percent from the field and 66.7 percent from three, but he was only taking 4 shots per game. Those shooting percentages aren’t realistic for anyone to maintain and since his return they’ve dipped to 48.8 percent from the field and 43.5 percent from three on 8.4 shots over his last 10 games, but if he keeps firing in this ballpark, the Raptors will be pushing Wright to shoot even more.
Listed as the backup point guard, the 6’5 Wright finds himself entering most games on the wing, defending ones, twos and threes. He plays off the ball at least as often as he’s expected to initiate the offense and he is almost always on the court with another point guard.
“When I am in with Kyle (Lowry) it’s more of a facilitating role, when I’m with the second unit, I can do a little of both,” Wright told Pro Bball Report earlier this season. “It just depends on who’s on the floor, your role kind of changes.
“It’s just something you have to do. If you want to be a guard and you want to play, you have to play multiple positions.
“I’ve played off the ball a lot and on the ball also. It’s not a big issue. It’s just sometimes I get into the mode of trying to score more instead of facilitating.”
And scoring more is something the Raptors want to see from their promising young guard. Drives to the basket and an improving three-point shot was something Wright was known for at the University of Utah.
“I have to get back to that,” Wright said about his days with the Utes. “I think I am better as a player when I am trying to score more instead of always looking to pass.”
As a senior, Wright was the first player from the Utes to be selected to the First Team All-Pac 12. He was also Pac-12 All-Defensive First Team, led the Pac-12 in steals, third in field goal percentage, and sixth in blocked shots.
There were concerns last season after he returned from a summer league shoulder injury just before the All-Star break, but couldn’t find his shooting stroke and it was a problem that persisted into October of this season.
But, Wright has been getting back into a scoring role and the Raptors are reaping the benefits. He’s becoming another driving guard with a deadly three-point shot that keeps defenses honest.
Toss in the nearly one block and 1.6 steals per game since his return to action in mid-December and head coach Dwane Casey is being hard pressed to give the versatile Wright even more playing time.