The overwhelming narrative for Milwaukee Bucks guard Matthew Dellavedova this season, will be redemption. On the back of a season derailed by numerous injuries, Delly will be challenged by the prospect of finding his footing in the rotatation, and living up to his hefty price tag.
A staple of consistency through his first four seasons in the NBA, Dellavedova was only able to see the floor in 38 contests last season, missing 44 games through a combination of knee and ankle injuries. Dellavedova did make a return in the playoffs, playing a minimal role in the Bucks' first-round loss to the Boston Celtics.
Speaking at the recent Bucks media day, he has hardly forgot the rough year gone by, but is ready to look forward to greener pastures.
"I’ve spent the whole summer working on my body, rehabbing my ankle and knee, and I’m feeling really good and ready to get started.”
Looking at the past twelve months in totality, the offseason couldn't have come at a better time for Delly, who would have been looking forward to an opportunity to reset, and recuperate, without the pressures of trying to get back on the floor and contribute.
Highlighting his desire to play for his country, he did make his Boomers return, suiting up for the Japan qualifier, before being in uniform for the now infamous Philippines fixture.
While all reports suggest Dellavedova is tracking towards being fully fit for the regular season opener in Charlotte, he is still being troubled by nagging knee tendonitis issues that will in all likelihood require management throughout the campaign.
Milwaukee is looming as one of several potential Eastern contenders, in a conference that is finally relieved of LeBron James' shadow. With highly-credentialed Mike Budenholzer taking the mantle as head coach after exiting Atlanta, the Bucks are set for a complete makeover on both ends of the floor.
It will be interesting to see where Dellavedova fits into Budenholzer's plans, with both Eric Bledsoe and Malcolm Brogdon ahead of Delly in the depth chart at point guard. In early preseason action, both Bledsoe and Brogdon have started at the guard positions, which would bode well for Dellavedova to play significant backup minutes at either the one or two.
Dellavedova himself, could hardly hide his personal excitement for the changes ahead.
“It’s been a lot of fun so far. They’re a high energy group. They focus a lot on individual development and I think their track record in Atlanta proves that they help to develop players, so I’m really excited to see what they can do here.”
Expectations are high for the Bucks' talented roster, after being mired in outdated and stagnant schemes on offence. It appears likely the team could flourish in a system that will put a high priority on floor spacing and player movement. For Delly, this could provide a significant opportunity to rebound, with his ability to make sound fundamental decisions and knock down open 3-point shots about to become invaluable.
Despite the obvious setbacks last season, Dellavedova averaged a career high 7.3 assists per 36 minutes, including a four game stretch in early January of 35 assists while committing a miserly three turnovers. With outside threats in Khris Middleton, Ersan Ilyasova, Brook Lopez, Tony Snell and Brogdon around him, Dellavedova's role will be simple: Make the simple pass, knock down open shots and bring his trademark scrappy defense.
The recently turned 28-year-old, is now entering the sixth season of his NBA career, and the third in his four-year, $38 million contract. It would be fair to suggest to this point, the salary cap strapped Bucks have no got full value for money from the gritty Aussie. To be clear, that is for reasons not necessarily in Delly's control, but with a new coaching staff and some key additions to the roster, he appears in the best position yet to fulfil the expectations set on him when he first moved to the Brew City.
A little luck with injuries wouldn't go astray.