Q&A with Delon Wright: Preparing for new opportunity with Raptors

Toronto Raptors guard Delon Wright looks to pass the ball during the first half of an NBA basketball game against the Detroit Pistons (Carlos Osorio/AP)

One of the most intriguing Toronto Raptors players to watch this season is Delon Wright. The University of Utah product has shown glimpses of being an impactful NBA contributor, but hasn’t had the minutes to solidify himself in coach Dwane Casey’s rotation.

With the departure of Cory Joseph this off-season, however, all that changes. To capitalize on this opportunity Wright is working on making changes to his game this summer, focusing improvement on his shooting from distance as he only shot 33 per cent from three last season.

Wright wasn’t part of the Raptors contingent playing in summer league this summer as those minutes were allocated to the development of Fred VanVleet. The first time Raptors fans got to see the new and improved point guard was at an impromptu appearance playing at the Nike Crown League. Wright’s inclusion was a surprise not just because he wasn’t expected to be in town but because he’s an Under Armour athlete. Nonetheless the basketball junky couldn’t deny a good run and showed off some of that work on his game he’s done scoring 17 points, with eight rebounds two assists and three steals.

The Raptors are showing faith in Wright becoming their back up point guard as he’s only played in 54 games in his first two seasons in the league. Although considered a young player, Wright is actually the same age a Jonas Valanciunas, someone many Raptors fans have already given up on. I caught up with Wright to find out how preparation has gone for his upcoming expanded role and what his off-season in Los Angeles has been like.

Sportsnet: How does the Crown League compare to the Drew League?

Delon Wright: In L.A. we have a lot more pro guys that play in it because a lot of guys live there in the summer, but I think in terms of atmosphere it’s right there. The crowd reacts the same as the Drew. The love of basketball here is real.

SN: What’s it like to be in L.A. where the entire league congregates in the off-season?

DW: it’s good. All week we work out with NBA guys. On the weekend, we play against them in the Drew and pick-up games like the UCLA runs. I used to go and watch them when I was young. The UCLA runs are legendary.

SN: Did the amount of player movement in the off-season surprise you?

DW: It’s crazy what happened in terms of the amount of money and the movement of players. It’s changed. There’s a lot more talking about it online.

SN: What’s your reaction to the rumours surrounding Kyrie Irving’s trade request?

DW: Somewhat surprised but at the same time not really. You just have to know that every team can’t stay together forever. Certain guys have certain agendas. Some guys are thinking about what’s best for the team. Other guys are thinking about what’s best for themselves. And depending where you are in your career that might change.

SN: How does it feel knowing your role is going to be bigger after the trade of Cory Joseph?

DW: It’s a little surreal. You knew it was a possibility but then for it to happen so quickly and you be expected to be a big apart of things is crazy. Now it’s about learning my role and figuring out a way to do it to the best of my ability. Being more vocal, being more assertive both vocally and in my play is going to be huge for me. Now when I have a shot I need to take it without thinking about it knowing I can knock it down.

SN: Were you surprised DeMarre Carroll vented his frustration publicly?

DW: No, I wasn’t surprised. I knew he was frustrated, you know, it happens. He knew what he was getting into and what the offence was like when he signed here. Maybe it was more of a switch than what he realized in comparison to Atlanta. Hopefully it will be better for him in Brooklyn.

SN: Most of the talk this off-season is about other teams. Do you think the Raptors get slept on?

DW: I do. I do think the lack of playoff success kind of hurts us and our perception. Going back a few years even from before I got here we have struggled to play our best when everybody is paying attention. Another year in the playoffs and being dominant will change that.