Detroit Pistons: Why Delon Wright is a must-trade at the deadline

Detroit Pistons guard Delon Wright Credit: Raj Mehta-USA TODAY Sports
Detroit Pistons guard Delon Wright Credit: Raj Mehta-USA TODAY Sports /

The Detroit Pistons’ rebuild, as evident from their abysmal 9-25 record and an eye test, appears on schedule in its’ infant stage.

The roster is young, energetic, competitive, and most importantly … it’s bad.

It’s not the prettiest rebuild; they never are. But there is certainly a level of jealousy present compared to their rebuilding counterparts.

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The Oklahoma City Thunder are jumping into their bevy of draft picks like Scrooge McDuck and a pool of gold coins. The New Orleans Pelicans, closer to contention, are swimming alongside them. The Minnesota Timberwolves are the only franchise with a worse record than Detroit, but they have cornerstone pieces in Anthony Edwards and Karl-Anthony Towns to build around.

For a smaller market team, draft capital is a necessity, not a luxury. The Pistons have made tough decisions to offload contracts and get valuable picks, but there is more to be done. That should include trading Delon Wright to acquire more draft selections.

Detroit Pistons: Trading Delon Wright makes sense

The arguments for keeping him are understandable. Wright’s been a steady, offensive force, averaging nearly 14 points, six assists, four boards, and a steal in the six games prior to his groin strain that’s kept him out since February 19.

The combo guard is also a six-year veteran on a team with two rookie point guards and another trying to find his footing.

When Wright is off the floor, the Pistons are 3.4 net points per 100 possessions worse, averaging poorer numbers in nearly every metric on both sides of the ball.

And all of these bullets are why he needs to go — strike while the iron is hot.

There is hardly a team in the league that could not use a backup point guard of Wright’s caliber. His playstyle isn’t flashy, but he has the chops to stabilize a second unit and create offense.

After this season, Wright still has a year and $8.5 million left on his contract. It’s a number that is manageable for another franchise and generates ample cap room for Detroit to scour for more free agent value.

The Detroit Pistons may lose valuable experience with Wright’s departure, but it’s reasonable to consider what that leadership comes at the expense of. Saben Lee and Dennis Smith Jr. are both trying to prove their mettle as NBA point guards and have risen to the occasion considerably well thus far.

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Killian Hayes’ eventual return presents a logjam at the ‘1’ that will inevitably shake up the rotation. And Wright is supposed to factor in there as well? Even slotting him out of his natural position to the ‘2’ squeezes minutes from Svi Mykhailiuk and Josh Jackson.

It’s unknown how influential he has been on the young guards, making it just as difficult to judge if it is irreplaceable. It is fair to assume, though, that the veteran mantle is one that can be assumed more prominently by Jerami Grant and Mason Plumlee (assuming Wayne Ellington also gets dealt).

Given Detroit only got a 2nd-rounder and Smith out of the Derrick Rose deal, Wright’s trade value has a low ceiling. But a 28-year-old in his prime like Wright certainly warrants at least two 2nd-rounders or a pick and a project player. A package with Ellington could garner even more.

The cupboard was bare for Detroit as Troy Weaver dismantled the roster. Shipping out Luke Kennard and four 2nd-rounders did not help. The Pistons have just five picks over the next three drafts. Players will come and go and hopeful rookies won’t pan out. Quality and quantity, in this case, are both essential.

Wright has brought a surprising amount of production to a talent-starved Detroit. And that is exactly why, no matter the cost of his leadership and production, he should be on a playoff contender by the March 25 deadline.

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