(Originally uploaded at Upside & Motor)
Midway through Utah’s game against Kansas, Fran Fraschilla mentioned on ESPN’s broadcast that Delon Wright is one of the few players in college basketball that could sub into an NBA game right now and contribute in a meaningful way. Utah’s senior point guard had a chance to declare for the draft last summer but opted to return to college and finish his degree. He very well could have been one of the better rookies in the NBA this season.
Thanks to the way Utah plays, we’re able to see how Wright’s skill-set should translate to the pro level right away. The Utes always look to push the pace in transition and run one of the most sophisticated half-court offenses in college basketball. Wright is a good scorer on the break and attacking off ball-screens but is also a very willing passer on the move. He has flashed great instincts passing out of dribble penetration, assisting on 37.8 percent of Utah’s scores when he’s been on the floor, according to basketball-reference.com.
Wright is very patient driving into the lane out of the pick-and-roll, showing great vision of the paths the defense in front of him is exposed to. He doesn’t have top end explosiveness off the bounce but gets to the rim rather consistently, averaging five shots at the basket per game, according to Hoop Math. Wright has flashed a change of gear going right on straight line drives but mostly does not get much separation.
His skill-set is developed to a point where this isn’t necessarily a problem at the college level, though. He is able to drive with either hand and uses his body to protect the ball in traffic, seeking contact that has netted almost six free throws per 40 minutes. Wright has a floater to finish in a crowd, and has proven able hang in the air to finish around length and through contact. His 13 percent turnover rate is quite low in the context of his usage rate (22.7 percent) and he’s converting 57.5 percent of his 40 two-point shots away from the rim (none assisted).
The main deficiency in his offensive game is his jump-shooting. Wright bends his knees rather than elevating up-and-down. He doesn’t extend himself much on catch-and-shoot opportunities and sets a wide base on pull-ups that have often looked like push shots. Wright has hit just eight of his 28 attempts from three-point range this season, after converting just 12 of his 54 such shots a season ago.
On the other end, Wright plays with very good effort for a player who is asked to do a lot on offense. He is always on — showing good quickness to jump in front of a lazy pass, awareness of his switching responsibilities in the perimeter and crashing inside to pick up the eventual block when he’s guarding baseline or contribute on the glass, collecting 13.8 percent of opponents’ misses this season.
He is unable to contain dribble penetration through contact due to his lean 179-pound frame and struggles navigating screens, showing a tendency to lean into the opposing big man. Nevertheless, he has decent lateral mobility to keep pace with smaller players in isolation and uses his length well to contest shots at the rim. Wright also plays with active hands defending on the ball, generating 3.1 steals per 40 minutes that help the team transition into efficient offense due to his previously stated prolificacy on the break.
Editor’s Note: Rafael Uehara is the managing editor of ‘Basketball Scouting’. More of his work can be found here or at Upside & Motor, where he is a regular contributor. He can be followed on twitter as @rafael_uehara.