When the Milwaukee Bucks clinched their playoff spot in the East, a collective shudder could be felt around the NBA.
Playoff Delly is coming!
Be afraid Toronto Raptors, be very afraid!
You’re about to face a force which has been terrifying Muricans for the past two seasons. A guy who tries really, REALLY hard!
— Matthew Dellavedova (@matthewdelly) April 14, 2017
But Delly doesn’t care which way you vote. All he cares about are the W’s.
When he got his big payday, he wasn’t rushing out to buy a Ferrari or a Mansion. Instead, he splashed out on a recovery basement so he could bring it even more. Because playing so hard you go to the hospital wasn’t hard enough for Delly.
And right now the Raptors are the only thing between him and his next win.
Cav to Buck
Delly’s first season with the Bucks was very similar to his final season with the Cavs from a stats point of view.
His usage rate went from 16.9 to 17.0, his per 36-minute field goal attempts went from 9.9 to 9.7, and his assists were 6.5 in both.
His averages were slightly up, nudging into career-high territory for points (7.6), assists (4.7), minutes (26.1) and steals (0.7).
However, Delly also saw a dip in his efficiency. His 3-point percentage was the lowest of his career (.366) and his overall field goal percentage the second lowest (.390). This is what happens when you no longer have LeBron James, Kyrie Irving and Kevin Love serving you juicy open looks.
Throughout the season Delly has yo-yoed from starter to bench player, crisscrossing with Rookie of the Year candidate Malcolm Brogdon.
Considering his coach – future Hall of Fame point guard Jason Kidd – is perpetually unsatisfied with his point guards, this is unsurprising. In three seasons at the helm of the Bucks Kidd has chewed through 13 points guards already. Treating them akin to how Monty Burns treats Don Mattingly and his sideburns.
Whether he starts or not has never been an issue for Delly who is well acclimatised to both roles these days.
On the Bucks, Delly again found himself as a sidekick to multidimensional point forward, swapping out LeBron for Giannis ‘Greek Freak’ Antetokounmpo. His ability to play off ball-dominant forward had to be one of the biggest selling points when the Bucks signed him.
And don’t they know it.
Greek Freak calls him the best teammate he’s ever played with (not the first time Delly has held this honour). Meanwhile, LeBron couldn’t stop lamenting the lack of depth and playmaking on the Cavs this season.
— Milwaukee Bucks (@Bucks) April 1, 2017
Delly finished the season playing the backup role (when both he and Brogdon were healthy), but we might see Kidd go for Delly’s and his playoff experience to start game 1. Either way, he will likely see a good amount of time defending the Raptors most important player in Kyle Lowery.
In four games against the Raptors this season, Delly average 7.5 points (27% FG, 40% 3pt) and 5.8 assists in 27 minutes. A small sample, but the numbers suggest he struggled offensively inside the arc but made up ground hitting 3’s and finding teammates at a higher clip.
Considering the Raptors generate so much of their offense from their backcourt, through Lowry and DeMar DeRozen (combined 49.7 ppg of the Raptors 106.9), Delly’s hustling defense mixed with his ability to irritate could prove vital to the Bucks chances in the series.
Fear the Aussies
It’s going to be a tough challenge for the young Bucks to knock off a strong Raptors outfit who won the season series 3-1 (Lowry sitting the game they lost).
But they do have something going for them. They’ve doubled down with two Aussies on the roster, which is a proven ingredient for NBA success these days.