Matthew Dellavedova’s transition to starting point guard of the Milwaukee Bucks hasn’t exactly been a smooth one.
With being named the starter, expectations surrounding Dellavedova were increased. Undertaking a larger role than he did with the Cleveland Cavaliers, Dellavedova was bound to see more opportunities. On the flip side, Dellavedova’s responsibility has also swelled, something he is struggling to deal with so far.
Dellavedova’s per-game averages of 7.6 points, 6.0 assists, 3.1 rebounds and a steal are modest. These numbers are what we have come to expect from Dellavedova – a low-scoring, reliable point guard who can be counted on to produce assists. When delving further into Dellavedova’s early season stats in Milwaukee, though, it becomes clear he is still adjusting to his new role.
His three-point shooting percentage is lower
Dellavedova has never been a lights-out three-point shooter in his career, but he has always been decent, or at least a mark above it. The point guard’s career rate from downtown is 39.4 percent.
Through 13 games with the Bucks, Dellavedova is only connecting on 31.4 percent of his three-point attempts, a career low. Last season, 35.4 percent was the league-average three-point shooting percentage; we can see Dellavedova hasn’t hit his usual form.
Mechanically, nothing seems broken with Dellavedova’s shooting technique. As you can see, it is the same as the one that shot 41 percent from three last season.
Dellavedova is a proven three-point shooter. The law of averages should work in his favour as the season progresses, but he isn’t getting the high quality looks like he did in Cleveland.
He is getting less open threes
As a result of playing with LeBron James, Kyrie Irving and Kevin Love, Dellavedova was often gifted with open three-pointers. Last season, 23.1 percent of Dellavedova’s three-pointers were ‘wide-open’, while 18 percent of them were ‘open’, via the NBA’s tracking data. The season prior, those percentages were 30.5 and 20 respectively, evidence of how good Dellavedova’s shots were in Cleveland.
Unsurprisingly, without the services of Cleveland’s ‘Big Three’, Dellavedova’s clean looks have diminished. Playing in Milwaukee, the league’s 20th ranked offence, 13.5 percent of Dellavedova’s three-point attempts are ‘wide-open’, while 12.4 are ‘open’ (after 12 games).
With James, Irving and Love, Dellavedova was often playing off the ball. As the defence gravitated towards the trio, Dellavedova usually found himself open on the perimeter for a clean look, as seen here.
In Milwaukee, Dellavedova isn’t playing with the same elite offensive talent, and his shot quality has taken a corresponding hit.
Another unsurprising byproduct, is Dellavedova getting less catch-and-shoot three opportunities. While 22.5 percent of Dellavedova’s three-pointers are of this variety, a solid rate, it is a steep decline from last season’s 31.7 percent (after 12 games).
It’s unlikely Dellavedova’s shots will get any better during the season, so he must adjust to making these tougher looks.
Milwaukee is better without him on the court
One of the key stats analysts often look at, is how a team performs when a player is on the court, compared to off it. Unfortunately for Dellavedova, he hasn’t passed this test in Milwaukee.
When Dellavedova is on the court, the Bucks have an offensive rating of 99.4 and a defensive rating of 103.6. This curates a NET rating of -4.3 for Dellavedova, an inferior rate. Comparatively, Milwaukee’s offensive rating is 104.6, and their defensive rating is 101.3 when Dellavedova is off the court. This means the Bucks are outscoring teams by 3.2 points per 100 possessions when Dellavedova is on the bench.
These statistics can be skewed, as the other four players also make an impact. Dellavedova is in the Bucks’ two most used five-man line-ups. This is made up of Dellavedova, Giannis Antetokounmpo, Jabari Parker, Miles Plumlee and Tony Snell, while the other squad is similar, with John Henson replacing Plumlee.
The first of the mentioned line-ups are outscoring teams by 8.6 points per 100 possessions, while the second one is getting out scored by 23.4 points per 100 possessions.
What can we take from these numbers? For one, the Bucks are a lot worse with Henson on the court as opposed to Plumlee. With regards to Dellavedova, it’s hard to get an exact read on things. Individually, Milwaukee is better without him, but when surrounded with the Bucks’ most-used players, the team is either really good or really bad with Dellavedova.
Overall, two of our three elements here (Bucks with Dellavedova, Bucks with Dellavedova and Plumlee, Bucks with Dellavedova and Henson) work against the Australian product. As Dellavedova gets more accustomed to Milwaukee’s system, these metrics should improve. For now, he just can’t get the benefit of the doubt.
He has a new BFF
Dellavedova created strong on-court relationships with James and Tristan Thompson in Cleveland, and he has a new bestie in Milwaukee – Antetokounmpo.
Of all the passes Dellavedova has delivered this season, 39.1 percent of them go to Antetokounmpo. When receiving the ball from Dellavedova, Antetokounmpo is shooting 49.3 percent from the field, a reflection of the good looks the Aussie manufactures for his teammates.
The bond between the duo is seen here, as Dellavedova and Antetokounmpo have an innate ability to read each other’s next move.
The relationship works both ways. Of all the passes Dellavedova has received this season, 33.9 percent of them have came from Antetokounmpo.
While he has struggled at times, forming good chemistry with Antetokounmpo –undoubtedly the Bucks’ most promising prospect– has been a positive development in Dellavedova’s season.
Finally: his assist-to-turnover ratio still looks great
Another constructive element to Dellavedova’s season, is that he has been distributing the ball effectively.
Dellavedova has an assist-to-turnover ratio of 2.60, just below the 2.91 rate he recorded last season. This has always been a strong suit of Dellavedova’s game, as it displays his ability to make the right pass at the right time and not force things.
This is even more encouraging when factoring in Dellavedova’s challenge of learning how to play with new teammates and in a new offensive scheme. Dellavedova has endured a rough transition to life as a starter in Milwaukee at times, but his playmaking ability, and relationship with Antetokounmpo, point to him eventually turning it around.
*All stats are accurate after Milwaukee’s first 13 games, unless otherwise stated.