Wizards

Wright may be tailor-made for Wizards' needs

Wizards

WASHINGTON -- Back in March, after his season was ended due to left wrist surgery, Wizards star Bradley Beal appeared on the NBC Sports Washington postgame show and gave specifics on what he felt the team needed to add this offseason. On that shopping list were big guards who can defend and ideally also shoot.

The Wizards may have checked off more than one of those boxes with free agent acquisition Delon Wright, a 6-foot-5 point guard known for his defense more than anything. Whether Wright starts or not, he figures to play a key role and will likely take on some of the more difficult defensive assignments.

That was part of the pitch Wizards president Tommy Sheppard and head coach Wes Unseld Jr. made to Wright during free agency.

"When him and Tommy called me in free agency, they told me about the need for defense. The team struggled last year defensively and I feel like I'm going to help the team get better at that," Wright said.

That conversation featured a surprise for Unseld Jr. He has been working in the NBA for over two decades, serving in various roles in the front office and on coaching staffs. He's talked to enough players to know what they usually say in those settings.

Wright offered an unusual perspective.

"His ability to impact the game on the defensive end, we've seen it. I think it's important that he embraces it. Having conversations with him during that free agent window, he made a comment that I've never heard from a player," Unseld Jr. explained.

 

"I said 'what are your personal goals?' A lot of guys will go into different metrics and numbers and he said 'I want to make an All-Defensive team.' First time I've ever heard that and it really stuck with me. That's his mindset and that's his role."

Wright also shared that goal during his introductory press conference with Wizards reporters over the summer. Whether he achieves it or not, it's worth striving for as he has a strong track record defensively. Last year, he was third in the NBA in steals per-36 minutes behind only Matisse Thybulle and Gary Payton II.

Unseld Jr. hopes to utilize Wright at multiple positions. In smaller lineups, he could play some at forward and give the Wizards three play-makers at the same time. He may also be used to guard multiple positions on the other end of the floor due to his size and length.

Wright is ready for that type of responsibility. He believes what he showed late in the year last season with the Atlanta Hawks could be a precursor to his role in Washington.

"They really relied on me to pick up the tempo on defense, picking up the point guard and just changing the game defensively. I hope to continue to do that, just trying to make it tough on point guards or whatever position I have to guard," Wright said.

Wright likes the fit for him in Washington. So do Sheppard and Unseld Jr.

What about Beal, who made those comments back in March?

"Huge [addition]," Beal said of Wright. "He's a pest on defense. In pick-up he picks you up at 94 feet. It's annoying. It's great that to have that on your team and not have to face that."