DALLAS — As the Dallas Mavericks staged their annual media day earlier this month, former University of Utah standout Delon Wright was front and center, answering questions as a member of his third NBA employer since entering the league as the No. 20 overall pick of the Toronto Raptors in the 2015 NBA draft.
Wright, 27, who played two seasons for the Utes, started the 2019 calendar year with eventual NBA champion Toronto. In February, the Raptors traded him to Memphis and after a solid 26-game run with the Grizzlies, Memphis traded him to Dallas on July 8.
“Yeah, that’s normal (to be on my third team this year already),” he said. “I’m grateful for the other two teams I played for, but I’m looking to stay here and build on this, keep getting better.”
“He’s one of those guys you can’t get enough of, that understands the importance of the little things you need to do to win in a hard league like the NBA.” — Dallas coach Rick Carlisle on Delon Wright
With Memphis, Wright averaged 12.2 points, 5.4 rebounds, 5.3 assists and 1.6 steals per game and finished last season with a flurry, notching triple-doubles in three of his last four games, including two against the Mavericks.
With free agency looming this summer, he knew finishing last season strong could only help his chances of landing in a great situation, which he has done.
“I knew I was a free agent coming up. I knew with me leaving Toronto that I had to prove myself right away,” Wright said. “It took me a couple games (with Memphis) to get adjusted to my new role, but once I got comfortable and I realized what it takes to be successful, I ran with it. I’m just looking to build on that and keep going forward.”
Those two triple-doubles clearly caught the eye of Dallas coach Rick Carlisle, who led the Mavs to the 2011 NBA championship and is a former NBA coach of the year.
“Well, we love him,” Carlisle said of the versatile ex-Ute. “He had two triple-doubles on us in a three-game period last year to end the year. That was something that certainly caught our attention. But in watching him, looking at the metrics, he’s a winning player. He has length, he defends. He’s working very diligently on his shooting and he is going to continue to shoot the ball better and better with us. He’s one of those guys you can’t get enough of, that understands the importance of the little things you need to do to win in a hard league like the NBA.”
Carlisle, however, isn’t the only one in Dallas to welcome Wright with open arms. Mavs point guard Luka Doncic, the reigning NBA Rookie of the Year, also remembers the ex-Ute going off against his current team and is ecstatic over now calling him a teammate. “I remember last year at the end of the season, the last five games, I think he had four triple-doubles in a row,” Doncic said. “He’s great. He’s a smooth player. I like the way he plays.”
In 2013, Wright joined the Utes after two seasons at the City College of San Francisco and immediately proved a perfect fit with Utah. He averaged 15.5 points, 6.8 rebounds and 5.3 assists as a junior during the 2013-14 campaign, earning recognition as a first-team All-Pac-12 player and a spot on the league’s all-defensive team.
As a senior, Wright replicated both feats, averaging 14.5 points, 5.1 assists and 4.9 rebounds per game while also earning the Bob Cousy Award as the nation’s top collegiate point guard. He remains grateful to the Utes for giving him an opportunity to play Div. I basketball and feels a similar great opportunity awaits him in Dallas, one he intends to make the most of.
“I feel this team is similar to when I went to Utah. It’s a great opportunity for me,” he said. “Also, there’s a lot of room to grow here and there’s a lot of great pieces on this team, so I feel like this is the best place for me to grow and further my career.”
It’s praise similar to how Wright sums up his two seasons as a Ute.
“I’m glad I picked Utah and I’m glad they were able to help me further my career,” he said.
Stephen Hunt is a freelance writer based in Frisco, Texas.