Washington Wizards: has Delon Wright earned a starting spot?

Delon Wright of the Washington Wizards dribbles the ball during game against the Sacramento Kings. (Photo by G Fiume/Getty Images)
Delon Wright of the Washington Wizards dribbles the ball during game against the Sacramento Kings. (Photo by G Fiume/Getty Images) /

First, let me start by saying I don’t think this will happen. I don’t trust Wes Unseld Jr. to lean towards his best defensive player, and the politics of acquiring Tyus Jones in the recent trade might prohibit him from starting Delon Wright.  That said, Jones doesn’t have stellar perimeter defense, Wright does.

Wright was our first- or second-best perimeter defender last season depending on how you ranked Jordan Goodwin.  They both were locked in as legal thieves on the court, racking up multiple 3+ steals games last season.  If Jordan Poole starts at the 2, we will need some extra defense on the perimeter just like we needed with Bradley Beal last season.  He can fit that.

Statistically, Delon Wright has far outplayed the Washington Wizards’ newly acquired guard

The defensive specialist only played 50 games last season due to injury, so he doesn’t qualify for many of the official league leaderboard list.  However, at 1.8 steals per game, that ties him with Jimmy Butler for second-best in the league.

His player efficiency rating (PER) last year was a solid 16.3, which ranks higher than Tyus Jones last season (16.0).  In fact, Jones’s best season was the 2021-22 season with a 16.5 PER.  Wright’s personal best was his rookie year, with a 17.8 PER.  Since then, he’s hit 16+ five times.

Wright and Jones both tied for assist per 36 minutes of 7.7 last season, but the prior was slightly more efficient with his passing with only 1.3 turnovers/36 minutes compared to the latter’s 1.4.

Overall, similar passing capability, but Wright is the much better defender. To balance out Poole’s shortcoming on defense, I’d want the elite defender to start with him.

But that assumes the Wizards want to win as many games as we can and not backdoor tank.  If the Wiz start Wright, play Jones as a 6th man, and get a serviceable back up big with size, they just might end up winning 30+ games next season. And with a 30+ win season, they could end up losing next year’s draft pick given that it’s only top 12 protected.  If the Wizards end up picking 13th or later, that pick goes to Houston.

I don’t think Delon Wright starts because there will be a real pull to start either Tyus Jones or Jordan Poole at the point guard position.  But more than likely Wright gets traded before the season even begins or at the latest at the trade deadline. A trade featuring Wright for a backup big or some additional picks/pick swaps in a larger trade is not out of the question. I could see him being a great fit for Miami if they swing and miss somehow on Lillard.

Is it too early to trust the process?

Next. Washington Wizards: 3 upcoming free agents to target in the summer of 2024. dark