Aussies in NBA: Delly's Australia Day Showcase

At the 4.27 mark of the second quarter, Ricky Rubio brought the ball up the court and motioned for a timeout.

LeBron James had just scored on a layup, via a bounce bounce from Delly, after the Australian had worked a pick-and-roll with Thompson as misdirection.

"Good roll," Matthew Dellavedova said to Tristan Thompson. "Good job."

That play made it 45-40 for the Cavs, and perhaps significantly, underscored Dellavedova’s greatest value to his team.

On the biggest day on our national calendar, Delly led the way with a star-ish stat line of 18 points, 7 assists, 4 rebounds, and a team-leading plus-minus of plus-16 against the plucky Minnesota Timberwolves. He also shot 6-of-12 from the field, including 4-of-8 from 3-point range.

Yet it’s that continued style of leadership displayed by Delly towards his teammates – the encouragement of Thompson, the acknowledgement of a teammate’s subtle contribution, the cheering from the bench, and the completely selfless on-court play – that makes him such a valuable teammate.

He started the game nervously, with some gaffes that included some matador defense against Zach LaVine, a failed Timofey Mozgov lob, and failing to recognise a backdoor opportunity coming out of some split action.

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But he ended that first quarter doing what he does best: hitting open threes and fuelling a mini 10-2 Cavs run that established the lead for good.

Delly also flashed an improved floater to compensate for when teams game plan for the Tristan Thompson lob, and potentially as a counter measure for screeners who might fade out rather than rumble to the rim. [gfycat data_id="SleepyConstantGalapagosmockingbird" data_expand=true]

That play was also symptomatic of Tyronn Lue opting to go small for large stretches of the second quarter, with LeBron James at power forward. Delly continued to show good chemistry with James in the pick-and-roll throughout the game.

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Those season-long numbers continue to confirm what the eye-test show – the Cavs take more profitable shots, 3-pointers and shots within the restricted area, with Delly on the court.

And with Delly exhibiting more variety in his pick and roll game, that unlocks more playbook options for Lue, and potentially cements Delly as the preferred long-term back up to Kyrie Irving.

That Delly was able to showcase those endearing traits on the national stage was in stark contrast to Kyrie Irving.

Whilst Delly was out there making his teammates better, Kyrie Irving was busy jacking up shots. Irving managed to put up 18 shots in 28 minutes of court time, and was a minus-9 in all.

In those 28 minutes, Irving did pass the ball 50 times; in contrast, Delly passed the ball 49 times in 25 minutes, but those Irving passes failed to yield much production. Irving managed 4 assists to Delly’s 7 dimes, but Delly also recorded 4 hockey assists to underline his game management.

Irving is undoubtedly a super talented basketball player on the offensive end, but the ball just sticks, and you get the sense that his teammates just feel frozen out at times.

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Speculation has mounted on the future of Kevin Love in Cleveland, and how he could be the odd man out. But Love has real value, even in a reduced capacity, as a stretch 4 and defensive rebounder. How much value is there for a score-first point guard who needs the ball to be effective, and is a minus-defender, currently ranked 68th amongst point guards in Defensive Real Plus Minus? That’s an interesting question to think about.

Particularly if Delly, an already elite shooting threat, and currently ranked 11th amongst all point guards in Defensive Real Plus Minus, continues to execute team defensive rotations to perfection. Wouldn't he be the perfect off-the-ball complement to LeBron James? That's an interesting thought.

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