Nothing’s official yet. But there appears to be good chance that one Maverick is going to receive a championship ring this coming season.
Specifically, it could happen on Dec. 22 when the Mavericks visit the defending NBA champion Toronto Raptors. Delon Wright, one of the Mavs’ marquee offseason additions, will be returning that day to Canada for the first time since the Raptors traded him to Memphis in February.
Wright was a solid player for 3½ seasons for the Raptors. When he was traded to Memphis, he showed flashes of being more than just a solid player.
Now, he’s a Maverick, having finalized a three-year contract in a sign-and-trade with the Grizzlies.
Wright, a 6-5 guard who could be starting in the backcourt alongside Luka Doncic, said he’s grateful to the Raptors for considering him to be a piece of the championship, even though he didn’t get to see it through to the end.
But does he feel a connection to the championship?
“Personally no,” he told mavs.com Tuesday. “But the fans are still saying I should get a ring and they still support me in everything and on Instagram. Every day, fans are messaging me saying how much they miss me.”
That’s not surprising. The affable Wright made a swing through Dallas and it was quickly apparent that he is salt of the earth and the odds are good he’ll be a hit with fans and in the locker room. He also took time out to do a mavs.com podcast that can be found here.
If his two months in Memphis were any indication, he has a chance to be a great fit on the floor with Luka Doncic and Kristaps Porzingis.
He averaged 12.2 points, 5.4 rebounds and 5.3 assists in his 26 games with the Grizz (11 starts). He also averaged a shade over 30 minutes per game. And while Memphis wasn’t great in that span, they did go 11-15. More importantly, it was a valuable stretch for Wright in terms of confidence and proving to the rest of the NBA that his best days are ahead of him.
“The first couple games were a struggle because I felt like I could prove so much in a short amount of time,” Wright said. “Then a couple guys went out and I was able get more comfortable and realized I was pretty much their best player (at that point). We had to play to my speed. So I got that confidence and I started to play a little better.
“I wouldn’t say I was worried, but I was always a little anxious because I needed a real opportunity to show what I can do. Toronto was like a small sample size, and I felt like once I got to Memphis, they were going to give me an opportunity. And I was able to capitalize on it and play for a contract.”
Which the Mavericks clearly believe he deserved, especially after Wright put up two triple-doubles against them in the final week of the season. All told, he had three triple doubles in the final four games.
“The league is getting more positionless,” coach Rick Carlisle said. “Delon fits with that trend. He can do a lot of things well. Getting three triple doubles in four games isn’t easy.”
Fun fact: Wright is one of four Wrights who have played for the Mavericks that go straight up the alphabet, starting with Antoine Wright. Then it was Brandan Wright and Chris Wright. Now, it’s Delon. Messing up the stepladder up the ABCs is Howard Wright, who played for the Mavericks for three games in 1991.
When Wright finished in Memphis and became a restricted free agent, he was quickly targeted by the Mavericks after they learned that they would not be in the running for Kemba Walker.
Wright also thought the Mavericks would make a good fit for him. It turns out it was no coincidence he stuffed the stat sheet in those late-season games against them.
“Even in Toronto, they would say: you might not be here your whole career so every time you’re playing another team, they’ll be scouting,” Wright said. “I knew that Dallas would be a potential landing spot for me, so I wanted to make sure I played well in those games.
“I had a list of teams, but once Memphis started to play hardball, Dallas, they stuck it out. I didn’t believe it. They kept sticking it out and sticking it out and I was like, ‘OK, this might be getting somewhere.’ They made an offer and we were able to do a sign-and-trade.”
Wright said a big part of the attraction with the Mavericks was Doncic and Porzingis. They are a little further along in their NBA evolution, he said, than the core players in Memphis.
Plus, he thought it was a better opportunity to have a bigger impact. And he hopes his diverse skill set is something that works well with his new, young teammates.
And, he promised, he will make rebounding – a sore spot for the Mavericks the last several seasons – a priority. That comes from his brother, Dorell, who spent 11 seasons in the NBA and still plays overseas.
“We’re going to change that,” Wright said of the rebounding woes. “My brother tells me that the better you rebound, the better you will be able to play because you get the ball in your hand and you can push it and make plays,” Wright said. “With certain teams, they don’t let me offensive rebound and that’s one of my strengths. Rick already said that he’s going to allow me to do that.”
Being able to rebound and facilitate for others, as well as doing the job at the defensive end, is big for Wright. He said those are things he learned from his favorite NBA player growing up: Dwyane Wade.
Now, before Maverick fans get the wrong impression about Wright befriending one of the biggest villains the Mavericks have ever played against, allow him to explain. His brother played in Miami for several seasons and was part of the 2006 Heat team that beat the Mavericks in the NBA finals.
Those are painful memories in Dallas. But for Delon Wright, getting to hang with his brother and getting to know Wade was a good introduction in how to be an impactful player.
“I tried to model my game after Dwyane Wade,” he said. “He’s been my favorite player since he got in the NBA. That’s someone I grew up idolizing. I felt like he was someone similar to my style of play.”
If Wright can continue to build on that do-everything style that he displayed at Memphis, the Mavericks won’t mind any comparisons to Wade.