Matthew Dellavedova will continue his second tenure in Cleveland for what appears to be a team with little to no playoff hopes. Although their immediate future may be bleak, there are still positives to look forward to this season, especially for Australia’s beloved Delly.
The experienced veteran
The 29 year old began his seventh season on Thursday, with the Cavs playing the Orlando Magic in their season opener, that ended in a 85-94 defeat. Dellavedova finished the game with five points, three assists and one rebound.
If you look around at the Cleveland roster, especially at the guard and wing positions, Dellavedova clearly sticks out as a player with invaluable experience and great leadership, surrounded by some young talent. Rookies Darius Garland, Kevin Porter Jr., Dylan Windler and sophomore Collin Sexton, are all players who could learn a lot from the savvy Australian.
This is relevant, because there is no one else better to learn off than Matthew Dellavedova when it comes to being a professional. The 2016 champion is obviously defensive-minded – which would be a great start for the young Cavs to take notes on, as they aren’t particularly known for their defence – however his most admirable skill may be intangible. Delly’s attitude is what has allowed him to have success in the league thus far. The Aussie carries himself very well as an excellent teammate, and never involves himself in drama.
“All the younger guys are supremely talented and there is always going to be a bit of an adjustment period,” said Dellevedova, when interviewed by Cavs beat writer Evan Dammarell. “I just have to help them get past that point.”
Studying how Dellavedova approaches the game will potentially allow the young studs to fulfil more of their potential, crucial for the Cavs’ long-term hopes of rebuilding.
“It’s going to be exciting to see the growth they have throughout the year.”
Staying in Cleveland?
Hypothetically, Delly could be on a contending team, coming off the bench as a spark plug. The chance of this happening cannot certainly be ruled out. However, if it were up to Delly, he would stay put in Cleveland.
“I do want to stay in Cleveland. I love it here.” Dellavedova shared with Dammarell. “My wife really enjoys it here. The fans and organization have always been awesome to me.”
As discussed, it is a two-way relationship. Delly will help the growth in young players and keep the team respectable when he’s on the court. Despite all this, a lot can change in the next few months. Dellavedova is in the final year of his contract. If the Cavs wanted to match salaries in a trade, or a team was willing to take on Delly’s expiring deal in addition to receiving another asset, his $9.6 million deal could quickly turn into a potential pawn in negotiations.
One team to watch out for in a potential Dellavedova sweepstakes could be the Los Angeles Lakers, the side obviously headlined by LeBron James, who would almost certainly welcome the acquisition of his former teammate Delly.
“He is made of steel or something.” LeBron stated after a Game 3 win in the Finals, in 2015. “If there’s a ball on the ground, he is going to be the first one to get it.”
Increasing the likelihood of this is the possibility that the Lakers might start to grow anxious with their current point guard situation. In their season opener Avery Bradley started at point guard, and Rondo is due back soon, but both players’ lack of shooting may come to haunt the team when the trade deadline approaches. Dellavedova would most definitely thrive in a role off the bench – someone who can come in to defend, shoot open threes and act as playmaker.
Dellavedova might love Cleveland and not want to leave right now. The situation might change, if an opportunity arises for him to be on a contending side and win another championship.
Improved jump shot
A lot was said about Dellavedova’s improved jump shot at the most recent FIBA World Cup in China. Albeit from a shorter 3-point line, Delly went off against Canada with 6/10 from long range, as well as solid shooting performances against the Dominican Republic, Lithuania and Spain.
“I feel really comfortable,” Delly shared during the World Cup, when speaking to Fox Sports. “I put a lot of work in over the offseason.
“I feel it’s been really good for me; get it off quicker.”
The World Cup is genuine evidence of improved confidence in his jump shot, but it is still a small sample size. Not only that, but the percentage Delly shot for the tournament was identical to his percentage in the last three years of his career, 35.9%.
The NBA preseason also showed potential growing pains in his adjusted jump shot. Over those three games, Dellavedova made two of his ten threes in total. During the season opener, he made zero of his four attempts from long distance.
It is important not to invest too much stock into what we see so far, though. Considering the circumstances Dellavedova is playing in, with starter minutes and little postseason hopes, there is a high chance he shoots more threes per game than he ever has this season (3.1 attempts career high).
Dellavedova averaged 7.3 points and 4.2 assists in 36 games last year. While his leadership won’t be questioned, his shooting might be a storyline to watch, as the Cavs begin their rebuilding season.