Perception is not always reality.
When the Memphis Grizzlies traded Marc Gasol to the Toronto Raptors, a common thought was that Delon Wright was the coveted piece and Jonas Valanciunas was the throw in piece for salary purposes. Well, Jonas has played the part of the coveted piece and Delon is still working to prove his long term worth moving forward.
The question surrounding Wright is whether or not he can be an NBA starting guard or is he just an above average to elite role player. The sample sizes are skewed, as in his 195 NBA games, he has only started 15 of them, and eight of those starts have come during his time in Memphis this year.
As a starter here is Delon’s stat line as of yesterday’s game with the Mavericks:
33.5 minutes/game, 12.1 points, 5.3 reb, 5.5 assists, 17.7% usage rate, 20% 3P shooting, 112 offensive rating 110 offensive rating
17.7 minutes, 6.8 points, 2.4 reb, 2.3 ast, 17.7% usage rate, 35% 3P shooting, 111 offensive rating, 107 defensive rating.
What do these stats tell us? Well a whole lot of nothing. Delon, when his minutes are doubled, doubles his stat line, but for whatever reason his shooting from deep declines for whatever reason.
If you buy into the Hollinger numbers and Player Efficiency Rating then you should know that there are 31 point guards considered an above average player this season. Wright is not one of those. Wright currently sits at #32.
No, the Grizzlies do not want to have a below average NBA player as their starting point guard. Memphis currently have 5 players on their roster with a PER greater than 15 which is the league average.
Jonas Valanciunas (12th in the NBA), Mike Conley (33rd in the NBA) and Jaren Jackson Jr. (6th among rookies) are the only starters while Ivan Rabb and Joakim Noah are above average off the bench.
The Grizzlies obviously have a void at the wings for above average NBA players. Dillon Brooks could fill that void and the hope is that Kyle Anderson would as well, but where does Delon Wright fit?
The descent to the 2019 offseason in Memphis is one of the more mysterious descents for a franchise in recent memory. No one really has much of an idea of what direction this team is headed in.
Will Mike Conley be traded during the draft? During the offseason?
Does Jonas want to play in Memphis another season? Maybe even longer?
Will someone take Chandler Parsons’ expiring deal? Will his knees allow him to play?
Will the Grizzlies match any offer for restricted free agent Delon Wright?
If the Grizzlies trade Mike Conley and get a draft pick, do they trade for a young point guard or draft one?
All these questions play a role in what the Grizzlies will do with Wright.
I offer you this: The Grizzlies should bring back Delon whether Conley is on the roster or not.
If Conley is gone, Memphis could focus on bringing in a solid wing player and Wright would do a fine job leading this team full time.
His stats didn't scream starter at first glance. But Delon will be entering his fifth NBA season next year and his current stats, in 15 starts mind you, mirrored rather closely to those of Mike Conley in his fifth season except that Delon doubled him up in rebounds. Also keep in mind what assists mean. POINTS. If Delon averaged 13-15 points and gets 5-6 assists per game, at a minimum he will be responsible for 25 points in a game and could be responsible for almost 30 points.
In his 8 starts for Memphis, where he has been entrusted with more than he ever was in Toronto, he has recorded a triple doubled averaged 14.6 points, 5.8 rebounds, 7.6 assists, and 2 steals. So clearly, his time in Toronto is bringing his starter stats down.
How many NBA players are at their peak year 5 in the NBA? Not many, which means that the best could still be yet to come for Wright.
Whether he comes off the bench behind Mike Conley to be a top 3 backup point guard in the league, he starts next to Mike to take some pressure off him in games, or he is the starter in the new era around Jaren and Jonas, Delon is right for the Memphis Grizzlies and the Grizzlies are right for Delon.