Having played in Toronto, Memphis, Dallas, Detroit, and Sacramento, Delon Wright is well-known in the NBA. The 30-year-old combo-guard has built a strong reputation for his two-way play and positive locker room presence.
Atlanta Hawks head coach Nate McMillan made it known at Media Day that he had coveted the journeyman guard for some time and was finally able to get him on his roster. Like most of the Hawks players, Wright had a rollercoaster season. Let's review it.
End of the Year Grades
Offense - B-
Despite having played the most regular season games in his career (77), Delon Wright had his fewest minutes, points, and assists since his first two years in the league. For the first two months of the season, Wright split time with fellow veteran Lou Williams. Eventually, Wright assumed the backup point guard role, only for Hawks coach Nate McMillan to announce that he was out of the rotation on March 11.
That inexplicable move didn't last long, as the injury bug bit the team and propelled Wright back into the rotation. From there, Wright thrived in his role as a backup guard. The 30-year-old finished the regular season with the second-highest Box Plus/Minus (2.2), behind only Trae Young.
While Wright was vital to the team's success, he never received an adequate role on the team. His usage rate and player efficiency rating were both at an all-time low this season. For as much as McMillan praised Wright at Media Day, he hardly showed it throughout the 2021-22 season.
Defense - A
Delon Wright was easily the Hawks best perimeter defender, which makes his lack of playing time even more confounding. FiveThirtyEight's RAPTOR model gave Wright a +2.4 Defensive On/Off score and +2.5 Overall Defensive score. Both of these metrics lead the Hawks by a wide margin.
If you're like me and you're not a huge fan of advanced metrics, then no worries because traditional stats back up Wright's game as well. Despite playing limited minutes, Wright led the Hawks in total steals this season and fouled less than any other rotation player (0.7 personal fouls per game). If that's not enough, then the eye test also makes the case for Wright's strong defensive play.
Leadership - A
Delon Wright handled his benching in mid-March like a true veteran. Following the season, he said, “I just tried to do my best to be professional. Towards the end of the year, I was able to carve out a role that I was able to be impactful at. So it was a sigh of relief.”
But even before the quick detour to the bench, Wright helped buoy the team at multiple points in the season. When the Covid wave swept through the locker room in late December and early January, Wright logged 33+ minutes in five consecutive games (excluding the three games he missed due to being in NBA Health & Safety Protocols).
Additionally, Wright stepped up when the Hawks were on the verge of total embarrassment during their playoff series against the Miami Heat. Wright led the rotation players with a Box Plus/Minus of 4.8. De'Andre Hunter scored a 2.9, and we know how he played in the playoffs.
Overall Grade - B+
Delon Wright's future with the Hawks remains uncertain. I've said before that he played well enough that a team with deeper pockets could easily outbid the Hawks for the veteran point guard.
While Wright is an unrestricted free agent, Atlanta's front office does have his Bird Rights. But would Wright want to come back for another season with a team that doesn't fully utilize him? During exit interviews, Wright told the media, “I would like to get a contract obviously. If it’s here, that would be lovely. But I know it’s a business.”
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