The Dallas Mavericks acquired Delon Wright in a sign-and-trade with the Memphis Grizzlies in exchange for a couple of second round picks and Satnam Singh. Wright’s nearly $9.5 million annual salary made him the Mavericks’ fifth highest paid player, and the verdict is in: His first season with the Mavericks was a complete disaster.
In 73 games (five starts) Wright averaged about 22 minutes per night while scoring 6.9 points with 3.8 rebounds and 3.3 assists. He connected on 37 percent from behind the arc on just 1.7 attempts.
Wright was prematurely billed as a nice complement to Luka Doncic who could attack, create and defend with his long lanky frame. As a natural point guard, Wright struggled adjusting from the jump to playing off ball. According to Basketball-Reference’s database, Wright played 65 percent of his minutes at the shooting guard position and only seven percent at the point guard position.
Even when Jalen Brunson went down with a season ending injury, Wright failed to take command of the second unit, often playing passively and looking aimless with the ball in his hands. While Wright’s struggles aren’t all on his shoulders - Carlisle is notoriously hard on guards - he failed to make good on the investment the Mavericks made in him.
By far Wright’s best game happened in the second contest of the season against the New Orleans Pelicans. After getting the start in the season opener, Wright came off the bench but played a season high in minutes, scored a season high 20 points (8-of-12 FG) and collected seven rebounds, three assists and a season high five steals.
He was shifty with the ball, creative finishing at the rim, disruptive on defense and active on the boards displaying many of the qualities that made him a shrewd acquisition last summer. After the game Rick Carlisle heaped lofty praise on Wright saying they hadn’t seen “defense like that since Jason Kidd”.
Wright completed the first year of his three-year, $28 million deal. He’ll make a flat $9 million next season and about $8.5 the season after.
It’s had to look forward to the Mavericks’ future and see Wright in it. He averaged the fewest points since his second season in the NBA and failed to make any impact as an off-the-bench playmaker. The combo guard made comments at the beginning of the season that he would rather start and play more traditional point guard, and that may have been all it took to fall out of Carlisle’s good graces.
The playoffs presented the most incriminating evidence that Wright’s future in Dallas is murky, to say the least. He received two DNP-CDs, logged less than nine minutes in two of his four appearances and was severely outplayed by Trey Burke who was signed as a substitute player in July.
With a modest $9 million annual salary, the Mavericks could choose to package with a pick for a consistent role player. By no means is Wright a bad player, but his first season clearly revealed he’s not a fit in Dallas.