Ahead of the new season, our own Zach Hood spoke with new Atlanta Hawks guard Delon Wright for a few minutes to discuss his role with the Hawks, getting to know Trae Young, how to slow down the Dallas Mavericks Thursday night, and more.
The Atlanta Hawks acquired veteran guard Delon Wright in a multi-team trade with the Sacramento Kings this offseason, addressing the long-plagued backup point guard role on the roster behind Trae Young. Wright, who came into the league in 2015 with the Toronto Raptors, is an established, quality rotation guard and has proven to be capable of running a lineup pretty effectively when given the chance.
Wright spent a good chunk of time as the starting point guard for the Detroit Pistons before going to the Kings, and played key roles on good Raptors and Mavericks teams at other points in his career. He probably should have received a championship ring for his play on the Raptors during the 2018-19 season, but Wright was involved in a trade that sent him to the Memphis Grizzlies midseason as part of a package for Marc Gasol during the Raptors 2019 championship run.
Without further ado, let’s hop into the interview with Delon.
ZH: So, first of all, I appreciate your time Delon, and welcome to Atlanta. I hope you’re liking the city so far.
DW: Thank you, I appreciate it. Thanks for having me. I’m looking forward to this season.
ZH: So I kind of wanted to start with Toronto and your time there to start your career. Obviously the last few years, they’ve had a great group, great chemistry. They had a tough year last year with the Tampa stuff and all the covid issues. But just overall, it’s one of the better organizations in the league over the last few years. Obviously got the championship with Kawhi. You unfortunately were traded during the 2018-19 championship season kind of close to the deadline in the (Jonas) Valanciunas and (Marc) Gasol deal, but obviously you were still there for all the building of that culture and you were part of that culture. Is there any comparison you can make to that and what you’ve seen since you’ve got to Atlanta?
DW: Yeah, we had a great bench unit with the Raptors, me, Fred (VanVleet), Norm (Powell), O.G. (Anunoby), Pascal (Siakam). We had a lot of young pieces like we do on this Hawks team. So, I see the similarities right there with two units being very strong and really not being dropped off once the starters go out.
ZH: What do you think the Hawks will need to do to have that kind of great chemistry like Toronto did with so many quality players on the roster?
DW: I think some guys are gonna have to sacrifice, I’m not sure who or what, how it’s going to happen, but everybody is not gonna be able to put up big numbers. Some days you just have to come in and play defense and not get as many shots off. I think that’s going to be the main thing for some of the guys that are used to getting a certain amount of shots with us being so deep this year, just not going to be able to happen.
ZH: I did want to touch on Dallas just also as well since you guys do start with them on Thursday night. You spent 73 games with Dallas, basically a complete season back a couple years ago. Obviously they’ll be a little bit different now with Jason Kidd as coach, but kind of what do you expect knowing Luka [Doncic] is almost the entire team offensively? What can you kind of help the guys with or just anything you would look for knowing that you know Luka better than anyone else on the team?
DW: Yeah, I mean he’s going to do what he’s gonna do, he has the ball the whole game dictating all the game offensively. I just think that if we can not let Tim Hardaway Jr. put up big numbers and guys like Jalen Brunson put up big numbers, because Luka is going to get his. So we just have to neutralize the role players. I think that that’s going to be more most important, and also just taking care of the ball.
ZH: Is there any specific matchup you’re looking forward to like earlier in the season or anything you got circled?
DW: I would say the Christmas game because when I was in Toronto I got traded, the next year, they end up playing on Christmas and then when I was in Dallas, I got traded, and the next year they played on Christmas. So this will be the first year I’ll get to play on Christmas, hopefully I’m healthy for that game. That’s most importantly what I have circled especially in Madison Square Garden.
ZH: And you know the fans are gonna be crazy coming off of that playoff series.
DW: Yeah, I can’t wait for that. The energy is gonna be crazy.
ZH: People who know your game know you as a really versatile rotation guard but is that also kind of how you see your role this season? What other things do you think you can bring to the table for the Hawks?
DW: Yeah, just about that. Being solid, just filling in to my role, if I get the opportunities, then I’ll try to showcase more. Right now I’m just keeping it simple, come in and try to bring some energy here, hit some shots, make some plays and just to try to bring that energy aspect of the game and then once I get more comfortable with the team and the offense, I’ll show other things, but I’ll just keep it simple for now.
ZH: Is there anyone more under the radar that’s kind of just been really good in camp?
DW: Sometimes in camp everything is kind of tapered down so you never get to see everybody’s full game, a lot of things are controlled, offense is controlled. I’ll say, ask me this question again, 10 games into the season, I’ll be able to give a better answer.
ZH: What have been your first impressions of Sharife Cooper and Jalen Johnson?
DW: Yeah, so I’ve seen Jalen Johnson, we were working out together with Chris Johnson. So I pretty much saw him all summer long. So I already know what he brings. He’s a crazy athlete. And Sharife, obviously we’ve known about him since high school and college. I was really impressed that he started to make it tough on me defensively just picking me up, being physical. That was something that I needed him to do to get me better. I’ve been impressed with that so far.
ZH: Before we get out of here, I do have to ask you about Trae Young. What was your opinion on Trae before you got here compared to now after being around him first hand for a month or so?
DW: Yeah, he was more humble than I thought he would be honestly. Because when you’re playing against him, he’s doing all the shimmies and all that stuff. I never had talked to him before in my life, so I’m just going based off of how he was on the court.
ZH: Yeah, like nutmegging people and stuff.
DW: Yeah, like doing all those things. So I thought he was cocky. But he’s been super humble since day one. We started to build a relationship, was just with him at the baseball game. He’s super chill, super super humble. So that was definitely something that I would say was surprising.
Always supporting the ATL! #BattleATL
— Atlanta Hawks (@ATLHawks) October 18, 2021
ZH: You’re from California, you a Dodgers fan?
DW: Of course, I’m straight from Los Angeles.
ZH: So you still got Dodgers in 7?
DW: They go to seven, so hopefully we can tie it up in a couple of games. That’s what I hope for. We lost two tough ones in Atlanta the first two games.
ZH: I got you. Well, I’m not gonna wish good luck to your Dodgers, but I’ll root for a good series though. It’s been a good start for the Braves.
DW: Yeah, I’m just looking for a good series. Of course I want the Dodgers to win, but I just hope it’s a good series.
ZH: Yeah, for sure. Well again, I appreciate your time man. I really appreciate it a lot. I hope you have a great season and you guys get off to a good start.
DW: Thank you, I appreciate that. Thanks for having me.