Matthew Dellavedova’s absence keenly felt in Milwaukee

NBA: Milwaukee Bucks at Charlotte Hornets
Nov 1, 2017; Charlotte, NC, USA; Milwaukee Bucks guard Matthew Dellavedova (8) and guard Tony Snell (21) talk during the second half of the game against the Charlotte Hornets at the Spectrum Center. Hornets win 126-121. Mandatory Credit: Sam Sharpe-USA TODAY Sports

Sitting at a pedestrian 10-9, the Milwaukee Bucks might have a problem. A Delly problem.

Maryborough native and five-year NBA veteran Matthew Dellavedova has been sidelined with tendinitis in his left knee, and missed his sixth straight tilt Wednesday afternoon. This has left his Bucks lacking in critical areas.

WIth the arrival of Eric Bledsoe and the continued growth of Malcolm Brogdon, Delly was never going to be the featured guard in Milwaukee. Still, his absence has been noticeable in a few key places.

Stability

The Bucks may be armed with some of the league’s most promising young players, but on a play-by-play basis, there is much work to do. While Boston, San Antonio, and Golden State continue to perfect smooth, beautiful offensive rhythm, Milwaukee’s approach isn’t just lackluster; it’s sloppy.

Hidden behind each massive Antetokounmpo dunk is a muted scoring prowess. Milwaukee ranks just 27th in pace, yet rarely seems to run a traditional offensive set.

If anything, the Bucks bench shows a greater propensity to run an actual play. Brogden has been doing well leading the second unit, although he certainly isn’t a point guard by trade.

That’s where Dellavedova comes in. He’s a source of stability for Milwaukee’s reserves. A true point guard who can anchor the team as the starters catch their breath. His 3.2 assists in 20 minutes of playing time is a testament to what he offers in terms of Xs and Os.

Leadership

Certainly the Bucks can make up 3.2 assists per game. But aside from a reliable true point guard, Delly gives the team an element of seriousness. Here’s what newcomer Eric Bledsoe said of his Aussie teammate:

Delly sees things out there that he thinks we should do and he speaks. We need that. (He speaks) without anybody taking offense to it or thinking he’s always getting on them or thinks he knows it all; it’s just he sees what he sees. …

We just know he’s for the team and wants to win even when he’s not playing. That’s all you can ask for from a teammate.”

Dellavedova is a champion, and although his time in the NBA has been brief, a reliable force for good in the Milwaukee locker room. This shines on the court, which is why Delly’s injury has been an issue for the team. Unsurprisingly, the Bucks have lost three of their last five games.

Defensive hound dog

Perhaps most importantly for Milwaukee, being without Delly means being without one of club’s true defensive stoppers. Yes, the roster has an impressive amount of length and athleticism, but few players can give an opposing star as much trouble as Dellavedova.

This is no small problem. The NBA is full of elite point guards capable of punishing poor defense. Since Dellavedova’s been sidelined, Milwaukee has lost to Dallas, Washington, and Utah, all teams with athletic points. It’s possible the Bucks would have fared better with the likes of Delly on defense.

Final thoughts

It’s November. It’s hard to be too worried about a bout of tendinitis with the playoffs so far off. Delly will be back and will soon once again be adding his unique value to his Bucks.

It is, however, worth noting that what Dellavedova offers might not always show up on the stat sheet. And the sooner he returns to the line up, the better for Milwaukee. 

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