The Atlanta Hawks did not make as many moves this offseason as they did last year, but everything they did set them up for this season and beyond.
Signing young cornerstones Trae Young and John Collins to long-term contracts, while also re-signing valuable depth pieces and drafting for the future are keys to a successful franchise.
Free agency for the Hawks this offseason was more about fixing holes than anything, and that’s what they did with the moves they made.
One of those moves was a three-team trade that sent Bruno Fernando and Kris Dunn to the Boston Celtics, Tristan Thompson to the Sacramento Kings, and Delon Wright to the Hawks.
Since Young has been in Atlanta, the backup point guard position has been a spot on the roster that has lacked consistency. Of course when you have a player like Young, the backup guard shouldn’t be too big of a worry, but those 15-18 minutes when he’s not on floor can make or break the team.
Wright has been a serviceable and ascending player in his career as a backup point guard, and was starting for the Detroit Pistons last season before being traded to the Kings. He posted his best averages in his career with 10.4 points, 4.4 assists, and 4.3 rebounds per game.
Though Wright has been quite the journeyman in his six years in the league (Wright has been traded to five different teams), this stop to Atlanta may be his most important, and he may be on the list as one of the best backup point guards the Hawks have had in previous seasons.
There’s no better way to break down what Wright brings to the the team than to look at some clips from his games against the Hawks last season.
At 6’5, Wright is already not your typical sized point guard, which means he can take advantage of smaller guards on offense and defense.
In this clip, Wright cuts around Jerami Grant and drives to the lane. Young isn’t able to keep up or contest the shot, but instead is called for the foul on the made layup:
Wright has nice acceleration on his drives, which helps him get past defenders bigger than him. On this play, Wright gets the screen and he's matched up with Capela. Wright continues his drive, gives Capela a quick in-and-out move, and uses his body to shield him off for the layup:
Most of Wright’s shots last season came in the paint, as he shot 58.3% from less than 5 ft.
Wright’s defense is something that will be beneficial for the Hawks, especially at the guard spot. With his height, he’s able to recover on the play even if he’s trailing. Take for example this block on Young:
The blocks are impressive, but what stands out is after the blocks, Wright pushes the ball in transition to find his teammates. The Hawks are good for scoring in transition, and should bode well for him in this offense.
Aside from the blocks, Wright is notably known on defense for his steals, where he ranked top-10 in the league last season with 1.6 per game. Kevin Huerter led the Hawks in steals last season with clogging the passing lanes, and Cam Reddish is good at doing the same thing. Look at how Wright is able to use his long arms to deflect the pass from Tony Snell:
It’s beneficial for the Hawks to have a backup that can collapse the paint and either score or make a play for a teammate, which means the offense should stay the same when Young is off the floor. Wright shows his ability to navigate through screens and make the right decision. He may not hit the floater at the same rate as Young, but he shows that he has the trick in his arsenal:
On another play in transition, Wright pokes the ball from Collins, runs the floor, collapses the paint, and finds a wide open Wayne Ellington in the corner:
There were times during the season when Nate McMillan would insert Young and Williams in the lineup together to give the Hawks more scoring on the floor, and two players that can control the offense. Defensively, you have two undersized guards on the floor, which may not be a good recipe depending on the matchup.
Wright is not the instant offense that Williams has the reputation for, but if you need size and an exceptional scorer next to Young, playing them together could be an option at times. Of course, the Hawks have shown the ability to have multiple ball handlers on the floor and have success, but adding another option should make things sweeter for them.
Something that can be in question heading into the season is who will lead the second unit between Wright and Williams. Williams could possibly have the edge since he’s been in the offense a year longer, but Wright could offer more versatility at the spot. There’s also a chance that both of them will see the court at the same time, so it might not be much of a problem.
With an emphasis on trying to find depth at the guard position, Wright’s skillset should prove to be an upgrade on this Hawks team.