Aussies in NBA: Everybody loves Delly

Matthew Dellavedova's performance was a mixed bag. In 17 minutes of game time against the Bulls, in his return from injury to the Cavs' lineup, Delly tallied 7 points, on 2-of-7 shooting, and added a solitary assist. Still, despite the modest returns, Delly continues to garner respect amongst his peers for the overall value he brings to the team.

Anderson Varejao’s trade to the Portland Trail Blazers allowed the Brazilian big man some time to reflect upon his career with the Cavaliers.

When asked about his favourite teammate, the 12-year veteran spoke glowingly of the Australian guard.

“The best teammate I ever had. He’s a guy that doesn’t care about anything but winning,” Varejao tells NBA Australia.

That Delly only plays to win is nothing new here. And it's clear that his teammates value his selfless ethos, and growing leadership.

I have already covered in this space his case for the Most Improved Player award. Dellavedova’s improved numbers form part of that argument, but so does his overall on-court value. The Cavs have outscored the opposition by 278 points in the 1204 minutes that Delly has been on the court, or 11.7 points per 100 possessions – a huge figure. They also take more of the most efficient shots in the game when he’s on the court – 3-pointers and looks within the restricted area.

“He was one of the reasons why we went to the Finals, and he just keeps getting better.” -- Anderson Varejao in Sporting News

Added Cavs swingman, J.R. Smith, “he’s a great teammate; he always wants to see everybody get better. He works harder than probably anybody that I’ve seen. He’s improved drastically.”

His recent injury-enforced layoff has certainly been felt by the Cavs. Cleveland sported a 3-2 record during his absence. Their bench, who outscored opposition benches across the season, also struggled in that 5-game stretch, barely breaking even whilst the starters rested, and shooting 42.2 percent from the field.

Varejao underscores the importance of Dellavedova to the Cavs’ future success.

“He was one of the reasons why we went to the Finals, and he just keeps getting better.”

The level of respect and acknowledgement of Delly’s game is certainly a far cry from the days when he was seen primarily as an end-of-bench thug, and one of the dirtiest players in the league.

Now an integral piece to the Cavs’ championship puzzle, Delly continues to earn the respect of his peers through his relentless and team-first play.