Could Matthew Dellavedova be a prime candidate for Most Improved Player this season? His elevated level of play this season is certainly making a good case. Yesterday, Delly shared some details on the hard work that's gone on behind the scenes.
Over here at The Pick and Roll, Warren's recently sliced and diced Delly's game in a number of ways. Let's start with the Cleveland guard's indefinable court value:
Numbers will never tell the full story. You get the sense that Delly will find a way to fit in and contribute regardless of the statistics, and regardless of the context. David Blatt has preferred Iman Shumpert as the starting shooting guard, and J.R. Smith as the nominal first wing off the bench. Mo Williams will continue to toggle with Delly for the backup point guard position. But both Williams and Shumpert are almost locks to miss games moving forward, and J.R. Smith is, well, J.R. FREAKING SMITH. Delly will continue to fight, splay-legged and all, defying convention with his intangibles.
Because the only tangible thing with Matthew Dellavedova, is that his impact can’t be measured. Not in numbers, at least.
To his unknowing adherence to the vaunted Moreyball style of play.
It’s certainly an interesting comparison, and perhaps a poignant one in framing Dellavedova’s fit with the Cavs, moving forward. The narrative surrounding Beverley is that he is an integral piece for the Rockets, the defensive linchpin on the perimeter who fits perfectly with the defensively-adverse James Harden, as a backcourt partner.
Couldn’t we just see Delly fit alongside Kyrie Irving in a similar manner? Moreover, with only one basketball to share around, wouldn’t a low usage player, like Delly, who hits 3s at an efficient rate be a perfect complement to Irving, Love and LeBron?
And even his brilliant passing game this season:
When Delly is on the court, the Cavs score at a rate of 106.8 points per 100 possessions, and only allow 94.7 points per 100 possessions. Basically, the Cavs outscore opponents by 12 points per 100 possessions when Delly’s out there doing Delly-things.
Those Delly-like things are primarily to facilitate better ball movement for the offense, with Dellavedova leading the team in passes made per game, and 2nd only to LeBron James in potential assists – passes to teammates in which a shot was attempted.
Delly on reasons for season success
It's more than obvious Matthew Dellavedova's made huge strides in his game this season, but what exactly were the factors involved?
During a conference with assembled Australian media yesterday, Delly spoke about a range of topics, ranging from his thoughts on entering the 3-point contest, to his plans for the All-Star break, and more importantly, how he worked to maintain his efficiency with increased game minutes.
Firstly, Dellavedova saw the Cavs' Finals run last playoffs as a litmus test on his style of play. “Being in the playoffs and Finals last year showed me what worked and didn’t work, and what I needed to improve on coming into this season."
That in turn, translated into his off-season training plan, and his participation in the Boomers' Oceania series against New Zealand added some extra developmental areas that might have been lacking in his role with the Cavaliers.
“I’ve tried to [improve on those areas] in the off-season. Also, playing with the Boomers in a different role and getting asked to be more aggressive looking to score and create for teammates; I think those were also good for my development as well."
Having the same people running the same game plan tends to reap benefits on execution, and Dellavedova credits roster continuity as a reason for his improved play. "I think, being in the second season with the same group playing together, you know where your shots are going to come from. You are a bit more used to playing with each other, and where [your teammates] like the ball, [how] they drive, what spots to get to. I think that helps."
It's the same familiarity, that allows Delly to get off his patented lobs with his best mate on the screen and roll plays, Tristan Thompson.
"Tristan and I have great chemistry," Delly stated. "It's our third season playing together now, so a lot can be communicated with either a nod of the head or a look or something like that."
Dellavedova continued to elaborate on the Thompson's offensive threat as a roll man, and how it affects the defense. "He's a great dynamic roller and he put a lot of pressure on the person guarding the on-ball screen because they worry about him rolling and then also bringing other people from the perimeter in to try to tag him when he rolls."
Not only that, it's also about simulating game conditions as much as possible, during practice sessions.
"[I] also put in a lot of time trying to get game rep; not just shooting with somebody passing the ball straight out to you from under the basket because you don't really get too many 3's like that in a game," Delly explained. "It's more [likely] someone passes to you from the top, from the wing, and with somebody contesting you."
"We're lucky enough to have a lot of coaches at the Cavs, so one person will be passing while another one is contesting your shot. That really helps me getting used to shooting with a hand in the face or someone flying out at you."
All-Star break plans
Finally: what does the All-Star break hold for Delly, could we possibly see him as an participant in the 3-point shootout perhaps?
“I don’t know if the All-Star three-point contest would really suit my shooting style, because you’ve got to get up a lot of shots in a short amount of time,” Delly commented. “I think I’m just going to go enjoy some warm weather and the other guys can worry about that."
According to Delly, it's more than likely our Australians in the NBA will catch up with each other over the break.
"[The camaraderie's] very strong, because most of us either grew up playing together, or with the national team every offseason. so we all know each other very well, and catch up when we play each other on the road," Dellavedova affirmed. "Most of the Boomers guys are going to try to catch up during the break and hang out together, so we're all looking forward to that."