Delon Wright has the opportunity to be the Raptors backup point guard with Cory Joseph gone. Wright will likely get the first crack at the role, but if it doesn’t work the Raptors will look elsewhere on the roster.
Is Wright Ready Right now?
In two seasons Delon Wright has played just over 675 minutes in 54 games. I think it’s probably hard to argue definitively that he will either be successful or unsuccessful as the Raptors backup point guard given that small sample size.
Delon Wright's Regular Season Stats
In January I wrote how the Raptors needed to play Delon Wright to see what they had in him. When Wright was healthy it took Casey a couple of weeks to work him into games and when Wright looked good Casey continued to lean on Cory Joseph. Delon only got serious run when Kyle Lowry was out with injury. Much like Carroll, Joseph needed to be gone to open up minutes for players with higher ceilings.
Does Delon Have PG Skills?
Delon Wright isn’t a prototypical point guard. He isn’t a great scorer or playmaker. However, Wright has been a very good defender and at 6’5” he’s able to guard multiple positions. If you look at a player like Marcus Smart, who was a 6th overall pick, he like Delon Wright have similar strengths and weaknesses. Marcus Smart happens to be a very useful player for the Celtics. The obvious difference between Smart and Wright is confidence. When Smart is on the court it’s clear he thinks he’s one of the best players out there. When his shot is going down it’s great, but when it’s not it can be brutally painful. On the flip side, in the playoffs, Delon seems to shy away from shooting even when he may have a good look. Maybe it was nerves on being on the big stage, but during the season it seemed like he also preferred to play without the ball.
Fun Fact: Delon Wright is the same age as Jonas Valanciunas.
Does it matter if Delon Wright has point guard skills or not? Coach Casey used Wright at small forward at times this last season. Delon can play at an NBA level and that’s all that matters. In fact, Casey recently mentioned the idea of playing DeRozan at point guard in certain lineups. DeRozan could make up for some of Wright’s offensive deficiencies and Wright could make up for DeRozan’s defensive deficiencies. We saw this last season James Harden have tremendous success playing point guard. DeRozan plays a similar style to Harden, but the difference is that the Rockets surrounded Harden with shooters. The Raptors may have brought in CJ Miles this summer, but he alone isn't going to provide enough spacing to replicate the Rockets offensive system.
What About Freddy V?
Fred VanVleet didn’t crack 300 minutes in his first NBA season, but he didn’t look out of place when he did play. Furthermore, he has looked terrific in back-to-back summer leagues and played well in the D-League. VanVleet is a decent playmaker and three-point shooter. He is also good at getting to the rim. Fred kind of reminds me of Patrick Beverley a little bit. Yeah, he’s not nearly the defender Beverley is, but how many point guards are? VanVleet’s biggest flaw is his mid-range game. Thankfully, the Raptors have one of best mid-range shooters in the game in DeRozan, so that shouldn’t be a concern. If Delon Wright struggles or gets injured in training camp and/or in the pre-season Fred VanVleet could steal that backup point guard job.
Cory Joseph was a good backup point guard for the Raptors but struggled hard on the defensive end. Delon Wright and Fred VanVleet have both shown more defensive prowess and both could take a leap forward when their roles increase. DeMar DeRozan could also take on more of the playmaking duties if called upon. If safe to say the Raptors have decent options when Kyle Lowry is on the bench, but Delon Wright isn't quite a lock to be the primary option just yet.