Heat

Wright Adds a Clamp to the Heat’s Defense

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The Miami Heat addressed one of their biggest needs in the buyout market by signing veteran point guard Delon Wright.

Miami desperately needed to upgrade its point-of-attack defense. Wright immediately becomes the best point-of-attack defender on the roster at the guard spot and should help the Heat in a number of ways.

Delon’s brother, Dorell Wright, played six seasons with the Heat and initially planted the seeds for the move at Udonis Haslem‘s retirement party last month.

Among all Washington players who have played at least 200 minutes this season, Wright led the team in on/off at +5.6. He also led all Wizards who averaged at least 10 minutes per game in defensive rating (111.7).

Now he goes from a nine-win team to a team fighting for playoff seeding down the stretch which should re-energize him.

Wright stood out defensively against the Heat in the first round of the 2022 playoffs during his time with Atlanta. His job was to make things tough on Tyler Herro and he did just that, with Herro averaging just 12.8 points per game on 39% from the field and 18% from three in the series.

His role will be similar on this Heat team. He most likely won’t be in the playoff rotation every night, but will be a great situational piece to have depending on matchups. Miami now has the luxury to throw him on the Lillard/Brunson/Mitchell types in the playoffs or insert him into closing lineups when they need stops.

In his first game with Miami, Wright’s impact was felt on both ends. He scored 13 points on 3-of-5 shooting and provided a decent amount of rim pressure, including drawing contact and getting to the free-throw line in the fourth quarter to stop a 14-2 Sacramento run. Erik Spoelstra talked postgame about how he has a knack for making the right play.

Wright entered the game ranking in the 96th percentile in passing efficiency and finished the game with five assists.

On the defensive side of the ball, he was as advertised. He covered ground off the ball, had active hands and was a disruptor at the point of attack.

It’s fitting that his first points as a Heat came in transition after a steal in the passing lane.

Over the last three seasons, Wright ranks in the 99th percentile in steal percentage. He finished second in the league in steals last season (1.84) just ahead of new teammate, Jimmy Butler. He also doesn’t foul a lot, ranking in the 90th percentile or higher in foul% in each of the last five seasons.

Wright checks a bunch of boxes for the Heat defensively. He’s an excellent screen navigator, can guard up a few positions and is elite in passing lanes. He can also play a bit of the Gabe Vincent role for the Heat by picking up 94 feet and slots in really well atop of the Heat’s 2-2-1 press.

We got to see a little bit of that on Monday night.

The addition allows Miami to be much more versatile defensively.

On the offensive side, one of the things that stands out is his catch-and-shoot numbers. He’s shooting 46.4% on catch-and-shoot threes this season albeit a very small sample size. Over the last five years, Wright is shooting around 39% on catch-and-shoot threes so the volume is something to monitor moving forward.

Sacramento sagged off of Wright and he made them pay for it by knocking down two catch-and-shoot threes in the second half.

It remains to be seen what his role will look like as the Heat get healthier, but it’s clear that he’s going to help this team.

About Frankie Richetti

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