Delon Wright rises to the occasion against the Bulls

CLEVELAND, OH - MAY 25: Delon Wright
CLEVELAND, OH - MAY 25: Delon Wright /

Delon Wright sets career highs for points and rebounds, to help the Toronto Raptors secure an important win against the Bulls in Chicago.

If you predicted DeMar DeRozan would have a big night against the Chicago Bulls, no one would have batted an eyelid. The three-time All-Star duly obliged for the Toronto Raptors, leading all scorers with 35 points and adding a team-high six assists.

However, if you claimed Delon Wright would have a standout performance, you would have likely been faced with some questioning looks. But that’s exactly what happened, as he rose to the occasion in Chicago, to help the Raptors beat the Bulls 124-115.

By the end of the evening, Wright had set career highs with 25 points and 13 rebounds, to record his first double-double since turning pro. To put this into context, his respective highs entering Wednesday night were 19 points and seven boards.

Just for good measures, the 25-year-old also threw in five dimes and four steals. All in all, it was an excellent performance when the Raptors needed it most, with many of his teammates not up to their usual standards.

Wright knew he was in a zone, on a night when he hit four threes. As reported by the Toronto Star‘s Doug Smith, he said:

"“Oh yeah, it feels way different. When I’m hitting shots I feel like they are pressuring me more, so I’m able to drive. I can just keep them off-balance.”"

Everyone was understandably happy for Wright, who missed 12 games during November and December with a second shoulder separation. As reported by the Toronto Sun‘s Mike Ganter, DeRozan said:

"“Tonight was Delon’s night. We love to see that. It’s big. We’re happy for him. “"

It has often been remarked the Toronto Raptors have arguably the strongest bench in the league. Certainly, performances like the one from Wright on Wednesday night add credence to this claim.

It also makes it easier for coach Dwane Casey to turn to his second unit, when the starters are struggling. Fred VanVleet was another player who stepped up, scoring 13 points in 17 minutes off the bench.

Casey raved about the play of his second unit, particularly Wright. As reported by the Associated Press via Sportsnet, he said:

"“The bench really saved us tonight. They gave us energy. We just couldn’t get our mojo going with the first unit, but Delon came in and had a career high. I really liked the way he was going after rebounds. His overall game sustained us.”More from Toronto RaptorsToronto Raptors: Christian Koloko Highlights 2022 Summer League rosterToronto Raptors re-sign Chris Boucher, add Otto Porter JrToronto Raptors should not enter the Kevin Durant sweepstakesToronto Raptors reportedly closing on extensions with VanVleet and YoungToronto Raptors get what they need in drafting Christian Koloko"

The irony is, Wright admitted he stepped up his pursuit of rebounds, after being told he had nine boards with around six minutes left in the game. As noted by Ganter, DeRozan was aware of this and promised the youngster would be mocked for such behaviour.

However, the teasing can wait for another time. For Wednesday night at least, the 2015 20th overall draft pick earned the right to soak up the adulation.

Moving forward, it will be intriguing to see how Wright reacts to his career night. No doubt the Toronto Raptors and their fans will be hoping the performance against the Bulls acts as a catalyst for the Los Angeles, California native to take his game to the next level.

Next: Jonas Valanciunas - Underrated and underappreciated

What stood out for you most on Wednesday night in Chicago? What’s your opinion of how Wright has played so far this season? What do you expect from him moving forward? Share your thoughts in the comments section below.