I'm starting to get down what a lot of Cavs fans want with the 24th overall pick in the 2015 NBA Draft. The consensus seems to be that either a backup point guard or young rim protecting prospect are the two biggest areas where the Cavs can plug a potential hole. Luckily for us, there are plenty of prospects who fit either category in the latter part of the first round this year.
This week, we'll hit another guard, one who somewhat bridges the gap between the skill sets of both of those guys, and someone who's been suggested to me multiple times in the comments and on Twitter: Utah combo guard Delon Wright.
Who is Delon Wright?
Wright is a second-team All-American guard from Utah, who's spent the last two seasons doing pretty much everything in the Utes' backcourt. Wright averaged 14.5 points, 4.9 rebounds and 5.1 assists per game for Utah's Sweet 16 team, and was one of the NCAA's most versatile scorers, equally adept at attacking the lane (like he did in the loss to Kansas above), killing you from outside (like he did in a 20-point, 4-of-4 from deep effort against Stanford), or getting to the line with high frequency (like he did in the NCAA Tournament against Georgetown). He's likely a combo guard in the NBA thanks to his height and offensive skill set. He's also the brother of Dorell Wright of the Portland Trail Blazers (who had one of my favorite Twitter exchanges of the season with Jonathan Givony of Draft Express), and while the two have very different games, the Wrights are very close.
Wright should have no problems size-wise at the point. He's 6'5", pretty quick, and has good lateral quickness. His height really helped him as a passer at the college level, as he could see over the defense and hit cutters and spot-up shooters with ease, and while that won't be as easy in the NBA, it's still an advantage for him.
Wright's height also makes playing off the ball a possibility at the next level, but I question how effective he's going to be playing on the wing defensively, and some of that has to do with his measurables. Wright only has a 6'7" wingspan, which isn't awful, but isn't ideal for a shooting guard, either.
He also is very thin, at 180 lbs, and due to his age, I'm not sure if he's got any more filling out to do on his frame. This could make defending NBA shooting guards a problem, particularly more physical guys like Demar DeRozan and Jimmy Butler. Wright's much better set up to spend a lot of his time at the point in the NBA.
As mentioned above, Wright did a little bit of everything offensively for the Utes. Larry Krystkowiak, Utah's head coach, is a former NBA head man, and Utah ran a very sophisticated NBA-style offense that focused on Utah's most dangerous offensive threat, the Wright/Jacob Poeltl pick-and-roll. Wright's great at driving to the rim off the PNR, and can either attack in a straight line or use a solid crossover game to attack the rim off high screens. Let's watch him fool Cliff Alexander and then dunk on Kansas's entire team again to drive that point home:
Wright also is good at creating drive-and-kick looks off the PNR, and his court vision is solid, as he is very good at those little dump-off passes underneath the basket, and is a promising halfcourt lob-thrower. Wright's experience and Utah's offense have prepared him to be a very good PNR ball handler, a promising trait at the next level.
Wright has shown flashes of being a decent spot-up shooter, a great addition this season that makes him more intriguing as an NBA prospect. Wright hit just 22 percent of his three-pointers in 2013-2014, but that number jumped to 35.6 percent this season, and that came mostly from an improved spot-up jumper. Wright capitalized on the added space that Poeltl created in the post, and also improved his form, getting better at taking advantage of his minimal spot-up looks. This is promising, because he's going to have to hit these shots more at the next level, but showing improvement and taking advantage of space are big for his prospects. Wright also is a great offensive rebounder for a guard, though I'm not sure how well that will translate given his wingspan.
Wright has several strengths as an offensive player, but I do have some concerns about his offensive game. Wright can get into the lane and draw contact at the college level, but he struggles to finish in traffic, and probably won't be able to absorb contact from NBA bigs the way he could in the collegiate setting. Wright also is an absolute brick-layer on pull-up jumpers. He doesn't have great form, rarely squaring his feet to the hoop off the dribble, and having a low release that makes contesting his shot easier:
These two things might limit Wright's effectiveness as a PNR ball-handler, because it limits the threat. If a defense knows that there's no threat of Wright pulling up off a high screen, they can sag off him and attempt to limit his lane to the hoop, knowing that he'll struggle to finish over the trees. Realistically, the way that the Cavs cover the PNR would really limit what he can do. Wright should still be able to affect the game offensively, but unless he becomes more comfortable shooting off the ball, I don't see his offensive ceiling being very high.
Wright's really active on the defensive end. He plays passing lanes well, is an acceptable on the ball defender, and is an acceptable rebounder. That effort will help him at the next level. He's particularly good at reading passing lanes, and generated two steals per game last season, which he's great at turning into transition buckets.
Wright can get bullied in isolation situations when he gets taken into the post, and he's not the best at staying in front of guys. However, he's good at recovering, especially off screens in the pick-and-roll, and in a defensive system that relies heavily on rotations (think Toronto, Dallas, etc.), he should thrive because he's a smart defender and closes out well on shooters. He's limited, but should at least be a passable defensive player at the next level.
Wright's experience with an NBA-style offense and his age are going to make his transition to the NBA very smooth. Wright turns 23 tomorrow, and while that probably severely limits his potential growth, he should come in and pick up concepts pretty quickly, particularly if he joins an offense that's PNR-heavy. That potential thing is probably the biggest thing holding Wright back. I know he's likely to be able to fill in right away, but he's got some clear negatives to his game (mid-range game, finishing inside) that might limit him to a career as a bench guy.
Wright can also be a little erratic at times, especially with his passing. His technique isn't great, and he's a little too fond of over-the-head passes that will be easy to read for NBA defenders, and I expect him to have a high turnover rate, at least initially. I don't think Wright's ceiling will ever be more than that of a capable backup point guard who can play off the ball a little. That's fine for the 24th pick, but I like other options better for the Cleveland Cavaliers, even if Wright's probably going to have the most immediate impact of any player the Cavs could draft.
I'm going to contradict myself here, because even though I'm not as high on Wright as some are, he reminds me a lot of one of my favorite NBA players: Greivis Vasquez. Vasquez was another older, tall point guard who struggled to shoot from outside coming out of Maryland, and he was able to have a minor impact as a backup point guard right away for the 2011 Memphis Grizzlies, then transitioned into a solid, although very turnover prone, point guard for the New Orleans Hornets.
If Wright can follow Vasquez's offensive development (he's now a very good pick-and-roll point guard and has added a league-average three-point shot in Toronto), he should definitely stick, because he's better on the defensive end than Vasquez was in college. Now, Wright doesn't have the swagger or boom/bust potential of the fiery Venezuelan, but he's a capable change-of-pace guard in the right role, which is probably where Wright lands.
How would he fit on the Cavaliers?
The #ReplaceDelly campaign continues! Wright could slot into the role Matthew Dellavedova plays, even though he'd be a worse spot-up shooter and on-ball defender than Delly initially. Wright would fit as a pick-and-roll threat who could develop some fun chemistry with Tristan Thompson, and the extra spacing created by the offense would probably help him develop as an outside shooter and help him score out of the pick-and-roll.
Defensively, he'd be capable guarding smaller wings or opposing point guards, and could help the Cavs compensate for a lack of size on the wing when they play him and Kyrie Irving together. That's what could make him a more enticing fit than Jones, because the skill sets are similarly complimentary, but the defensive fit is much better.
For the future, I'd expect Wright and Irving to play in a similar way to the Kyle Lowry/Vasquez dynamic in Toronto, except better defensively and dynamite offensively. I may not be super high on Wright as a player, but I have to admit, his fit on the Cavs would be better than most.