Every game last year the Raptor commentators would choose their in game “X-Factor”, a player that helped tip the balance of the game in the Raptors favour but wasn’t one of the starting five. This year one of the interesting choices each night for the raptors announce team will be, newly acquired, Antoine Wright. He embodies the spirit of an X-Factor not because he is expected to be a big part of the teams offensive output but with his athleticism and defensive energy he may just end up being a key reason the Raptors win ball games.
Wright was considered by many to be a “throw in player” or “add on” in the massive Hedo Turkoglu/Shawn Marion trade but could end up being a hidden gem.
In a recent interview, with the Fan590 morning show, Jay Triano discussed Wrights status as the forgotten acquisition this summer. “The one player everyone keeps forgetting about in this deal is Antoine Wright who is a super good defensive player and he tracks the ball extremely well. He is a little bit of a tough guy as well.“
It is clear Wright addresses needs on this Raptor team and may become a popular name summoned from Triano’s bench this season. Given the Raptors difficulties guarding the perimeter last year it would seem to make sense that Wright will become a very valuable player on this Raptors team. Not only can he defend athletic players on the opposing team but Wright can do something that most of the Raptor perimeter players could not do last year: rebound. For a shooting guard he averaged a very respectable 2.1 rebounds per game. This is something Jay Triano is looking forward to seeing from his team “we are also expecting rebounding to come from the perimeter as well”.
Last year with Dallas Wright was asked to fill in as a starter for large stretches of time when Jason Terry went down with an injury mid-season. He responded by averaging 7.3 points per game and was asked to guard very strong perimeter players in the loaded Western Conference. With the increased minutes Wright played a key role in the Mavs success near the end of the season(in which they finished 6th in the West) and into the playoffs.
Brian Colangelo is confident that Wright will play a large role in improving the Raptors defensive fortunes this season and will provide much needed toughness to a team that was often criticized for being “too soft”. “The thing I like to hear about him, from Rick Carlisle himself, is that he might have been his toughest defender and can guard three positions on the perimeter 1’s , 2’s and 3’s, even some very quick ones. Also, he’s a tough kid. He might have been his (Carlisle’s) toughest kid. If there was a fracas on the court last year he was the first guy to get his chin in there. What did we need more than anything last year?…perimeter defense and toughness.”
Both Triano and Colangelo do not see him as a “throw in” player on this team or a footnote in the Hedo Turkoglu trade. With Antoine Wright the coach and general manager see someone they can depend on late in close games to defend the basket. That is something the club was sorely lacking last year and as a result saw victories slip through their fingers in the late stages of games. Don’t be surprised to see Antoine Wright playing key minutes late in ball games. In fact there is a very real possibility that we could see Wright starting at the 2 or 3 positions at some point during the season.
Don’t be surprised if next year Matt Devlin, Leo Rautins and Jack Armstrong regularly select Antoine Wright as their X-Factor. He is someone that tends to fly under the radar when you look at this roster…something the Toronto Raptors will be banking on this coming season.