5 things analytics say about Delon Wright's game

·5 min read

5 things analytics say about Delon Wright's game originally appeared on NBC Sports Washington

For a team like the Wizards that struggled on defense and at shooting threes last year, and that needed point guard depth entering this offseason, Delon Wright should fit their roster like a glove. He checks off all of those boxes and is also big for his position, an added bonus for Washington which at times last year was held back by an undersized backcourt.

That's Wright at face value, however. Let's take a closer look at what he will bring to the Wizards by using analytics, to see exactly how he could make an impact after joining the team in free agency...

Lots of steals

While Wright should help the Wizards in a variety of ways, his best trait is arguably his ability to force turnovers. Wright gets a lot of steals, especially for the minutes he plays. Last season, he averaged 2.3 steals per-36 minutes which placed third behind only Gary Payton II (2.8) and Matisse Thybulle (2.5) among qualified players. Thybulle has been one of the league's peskiest wing defenders for years, while Payton II enjoyed a breakout season for the NBA champion Warriors, largely because of his disruptive defense.

Wright uses his 6-foot-5 frame to wreak havoc on smaller guards and he has a knack for getting into passing lanes. Wright was 10th in the league last season in deflections per-36 minutes (3.7), while no one on the Wizards ranked in the top-60 among qualified players. In fact, the Wizards were 30th out of 30 teams in deflections per game (11.6). Now, it's not a perfect stat to measure the effectiveness of a defense, as the Celtics were 27th last year in deflections yet had the best defensive rating per NBA.com. But it does help and, adding to Wright's prowess in that regard, he was also tied for fifth in the NBA in loose balls recovered per-36 minutes (1.2)

Solid in isolation

Wright thrived last season in isolation defense. He held opponents to just 0.81 points per possession on those plays, which would have ranked third on the Wizards last year behind only Bradley Beal (0.61) and Kyle Kuzma (0.71). The caveat there is that Wright, as with Beal, produced that number in a relatively small sample size. Kuzma, for instance, was tracked on three times as many isolation plays as Beal.

Still, it's a good skill for Wright to bring to Washington. At his size, he should provide some versatility in addition to his deflections and steals. Perhaps head coach Wes Unseld Jr. can trust him to defend on an island in situations that call for it.

Limits turnovers

Much like Monte Morris, whom Wright is expected to back up at the point guard position, Wright is terrific at protecting the ball. Last season, he was sixth in assist-to-turnover ratio (4.18), right behind Morris who was fifth. That means the Wizards' point guard rotation should do an excellent job collectively of limiting turnovers and that is ideal considering they should have the ball in their hands quite a bit. The Wizards were already fairly good at protecting the ball last season, placing eighth in the NBA in turnovers per game (13.1), but now have a chance to be even better with Wright and Morris running the offense.

It's forcing turnovers which they struggle with, having been 30th in the NBA last year (11.9/g). That's where Wright should really come in handy. Wright, though, also happens to be even better at protecting the ball late in games. He was third in the NBA in fourth quarter ast/to ratio (5.10), granted he had a low usage rate (8.8%) playing alongside Trae Young in Atlanta.

Avoids midrange

Similar to Will Barton, another new teammate of his, Wright has an efficient shot profile in that he essentially sticks to shots around the rim and from three. Last season, only 8.6% of Wright's field goal attempts came in the range of 10 feet from the rim to the 3-point line. He attempted 43.1% of his total shots from three and 48.4% of his attempts came from within 10 feet of the basket.

Wright's avoidance of the midrange could help him pair well with several players on the Wizards' roster. Beal and Kristaps Porzingis both do a decent amount of damage there, if Wright were to play alongside the starters. In the second unit, that could pave the way for Rui Hachimura to go to work in the midrange. Rookie Johnny Davis also seems to be more comfortable in that zone at this stage in his development.

Makes open threes

Wright not only attempts a large portion of his shots from three, he knocks them down at a fairly reliable rate. Last season, Wright made 37.9% of his 3-point attempts, about league average, albeit on only 1.5 attempts per game. Wright is hoping to reinstall himself as more of an offensive threat after his role on that end was diminished last year in Atlanta, so perhaps the volume will scale upward. Regardless, the defense has to keep an eye on him when he's roaming the perimeter.

If they leave him open, Wright can make defenses pay. He made 41.1% of his wide-open threes last year, i.e. shots in which the closest defender was six feet or further away. The Wizards were 22nd in percentage on those shots (37.2) last season. Another interesting wrinkle about Wright's long-range shooting is that he is equally as good on catch-and-shoot plays and off-the-dribble. He shot 38% last season on catch-and-shoot and 38.2% on pull-ups. It's common to see players be much better on catch-and-shoot plays.