Pistons' Delon Wright's reunion with Dwane Casey years in the making
When Delon Wright found out that he had been traded to the Pistons, he was relieved. Many times, it’s tough for players to find out they’re going to a new team and a new city, but it’s something Wright had wanted for a couple of years.
With the Pistons, Wright is reunited with coach Dwane Casey, for whom he played his first three-plus years with the Toronto Raptors, beginning in 2015-16.
Now they’re back together — and Wright is amped about it.
“Honestly, I was excited because we were working on trying to get here for about two or three years. Initially, before I was traded to the Grizzlies, it was 50-50 on coming here to Detroit,” Wright said during his introductory press teleconference. “I was happy that I was able to finally get here and a great opportunity for me to grow with the organization. I couldn't ask for a better situation right now.”
Wright, 28, was acquired in a trade with the Dallas Mavericks last month and is starting the second season of his three-year deal worth $28 million. He brings a versatile skill set as a combo guard and will provide some stability along with Derrick Rose and rookie Killian Hayes.
At 6-foot-5, 185 pounds, Wright strengthens the backcourt depth and is likely to slide into a prominent role in the rotation from the very start of the season. He’s strong in either of the guard positions, so it’ll make the transition easier for him, along with the familiarity with Casey’s system.
“I'll be playing (both guard spots) on the ball and off the ball. It works to my strengths perfectly playing with another guard or being the lead guard,” Wright said. “So, we talked about that and that's what really intrigued me on coming here. You can't ask for anything better than that.”
In 2019, Wright was traded from the Raptors to the Memphis Grizzlies in the Marc Gasol deal. He had a good second half of the season, posing 12.2 points, 5.4 rebounds and 5.3 assists in 26 games, including 11 starts.
He was traded from the Grizzlies to the Mavericks in the summer of 2019 after signing his new contract and had a subpar season with the Mavericks, with just 6.9 points, 3.8 rebounds and 3.3 assists, but he improved to 37% on 3-pointers, which has been an area of improvement for him.
In Dallas, playing alongside Luka Doncic at times, he wasn’t able to reach his full potential and was playing out of position at times, which impacted his production, as he was depending on for 3-pointers and his defense more than his other attributes.
“I felt like (the Mavericks) wanted me to be more of a 3-and-D type of guy, stand in the corner, and play off Luka — which is fine, but after a while (it was harder),” Wright said. “I like to have the ball in my hands to be a playmaker, not even to score, but just to make plays and keep my rhythm going. A lot of the time, I was in the corner, or trying to play off another guard.”
Wright is an example of the effectiveness of Casey’s player development, as a former first-round pick (20th overall) of the Raptors in 2015, after two college seasons at Utah. In those formative years, he had to watch and learn before he had his chance, as so many of the others, such as Fred VanVleet, have done since.
“I felt like at least for all the guys that I was around, we kind of had to wait our turn for at least a year to learn from Kyle Lowry, DeMar DeRozan, and some of the veterans,” Wright said. “When we were thrown into the fire, we were prepared, and Coach Casey did a good job with that with player development and making sure we were ready to play.”
The Pistons haven’t had the same luxury of being able to hold their young players out in favor of veterans, but in the midst of their rebuild, the young players will take on more prominent roles, with veterans like Wright transitioning into mentors and role models.
That knowledge of Casey’s background and what some of those conversations are like is part of the reason he’ll be a good fit — both on and off the court — for the Pistons. He can also be an advocate for Casey, having played so long for Casey with the Raptors.
“He's a well-prepared coach. He really knows what he's talking about,” Wright said. “He's been on a championship team, he's been around for a while, so you know he really knows the game, so just trust his game plan.”