Per ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski, the Mavericks and Grizzlies have agreed to a sign and trade for restricted free agent Delon Wright. The Mavericks will send back two second round picks in the deal. Also per Woj, the deal is for three years, $29 million, which seems to be a good value for what the Mavericks need.
The Mavericks have been long rumored to covet Wright, especially after plans to acquire Danny Green fell through when he chose to sign with the Lakers after the Kawhi Leonard decision. Wright was the 19th pick in the 2015 draft and if you were reading Mavs Moneyball then, you might remember his name as he was a favorite of our draft experts at the time. Not too much has changed from those assessments — Wright is still a heady guard, someone who won’t wow you with numbers or athleticism but seems to have a calm understanding of the position.
In Toronto, Wright backed up Kyle Lowry and occasionally closed games next to him in the backcourt. He garnered a decent amount of playoff experience for someone as relatively NBA young as he is, which could be helpful to the very green Mavericks roster. It’s hard to quantify how valuable that sort of experience is, but Wright learned how to win while with the Raptors. It can’t hurt for a Mavericks team that largely doesn’t have recent winning experience.
In terms of his game, Wright isn’t an ideal Luka Doncic-type point guard, but he checks enough boxes. At 6’5, he’s able to guard ones, twos and even some threes, with great switching versatility. Anytime he was on the floor while with the Raptors, the team played excellent, elite-level defense. Wright was certainly surrounded by other quality defenders in Toronto, but he’s definitely no slouch. He’ll be a massive upgrade there for Dallas in the backcourt and his size allows him to cover spots his lesser teammates can’t.
Offensively is where the issues might crop up. Wright knows who he is and doesn’t try to be anything more — he’s a career 49.5 percent shooter on twos, mostly sticking close to the rim and the paint. He lacks explosiveness to get to the rim, as evidenced by his dearth of free throw attempts, but he has a variety of ways to get his shot off the closer he gets to the basket. He’s very skilled in that department.
Unfortunately outside of the paint, Wright isn’t as creative. He’s a career 33.2 percent shooter from deep and shot a freezing 29.8 percent last season. Some of that is due to his trade to Memphis, but he’s never been a proven shooter and wasn’t one in college. He’s a solid if unspectacular passer who makes the necessary reads a modern NBA point guard needs to make. He’ll keep Dallas’ offense moving.
Speaking of his Memphis numbers, they spiked across the board. Once traded for Marc Gasol, Wright got starters’ minutes for the first time in his career. He averaged career-high counting stats across the board and his rebound and assist numbers (a little over five per game for each) showcase how versatile he can be.
Mavericks fans who were still paying attention in March and April undoubtedly remember his two triple-doubles against the team. As exciting as those numbers were, it’s hard to pin-point their accuracy. The NBA is a slog during this portion of the schedule and games become less competitive as a decent number of teams have given up their playoff pursuits, attempt to lose games for draft positioning or have their playoff seed already secured. Thankfully, Wright’s per-36 numbers in Memphis weren’t all that different from what he did in Toronto, hinting at some sustainability.
We’ve already seen the Mavericks poach an under-the-radar player after they had a good April in Seth Curry. It was widely suspected that the Mavericks would make a RFA offer to Wright, which would have given Memphis time to match, but this takes the uncertainty out of that path while giving Memphis back picks for their own rebuild.