Title: WHY DELON WRIGHT IS SUDDENLY A KEY PIECE FOR THE RAPTORS
Date: February 16, 2017
Original Source: Vice
Synopsis: For my latest at Vice, I wrote about Delon Wright’s breakout game and why he’s suddenly an important piece for the Raptors.
For weeks, the Toronto Raptors have been searching. Mired in perhaps their worst sustained stretch of play since The Rudy Gay Trade kicked off the best era of basketball in franchise history, the Raptors have spent all of 2017 so far grasping and clawing for any semblance of positivity, something to build on, anything at all to take the weight of an ugly losing skid off of their shoulders, and off of their brains.
Tuesday’s acquisition of Serge Ibaka is meant to help in that regard. But after a grueling 24 hours of travel, physicals, goodbyes, and hellos, the Raptors opted to keep Ibaka out of the lineup Wednesday when they hosted the Charlotte Hornets. Patrick Patterson was kept out for just one more game, too, and the double-charged boost the Raptors so desperately need at the power forward position was effectively pushed back to Feb. 24.
The remaining Raptors, as has so often been the case lately, languished without them. A strong first quarter quickly devolved into shaky two-way basketball in the second, and separate Charlotte runs of 21-7 and 13-3 in the third appeared to solidify the Raptors’ place at the All-Star break: They’d enter still sputtering, frustrated, and in need of the time off both physically and mentally.
They still had 12 minutes to search for a win, though, and for the second game in a row, head coach Dwane Casey got bizarre in trying to find an answer.
On Tuesday, Delon Wright made his long-awaited season debut and turned in 10 terrific minutes, nearly helping save another awful meeting with the Bulls by sparking a six-point turnaround. Wednesday, he found himself in the regular rotation, and Casey took his trust in the sophomore a step further, tasking the 6-foot-5 point guard with sliding over to small forward in a three-point guard lineup. Rookie Jakob Poeltl, a common but inconsistent spark plug himself, joined the three ball-handlers and DeMarre Carroll, forming a lineup that is closer to something Larry Krystkowiak is familiar with at Utah than the Raptors are in Toronto.