Matthew Dellavedova has been a busy man this NBA off-season. A rare break from basketball allowed him to recognise life goals off the court.
Dellavedova married long-time girlfriend Anna, who he met while playing college basketball at St Mary's. He has also been hard at work promoting his first signature shoe, the “Delly 1”, with international trips to the Philippines and Thailand taking the Delly brand global. Time away from basketball has been well spent, although the fun and games are now over.
After a circumspect first season with the Milwaukee Bucks, Dellavedova is ready to help his team return to the NBA playoffs.
Today, we continue our Aussies in the NBA Wish List series by looking at how Dellavedova can help the Bucks this season. In case you missed them, here are links to our previews of Joe Ingles, Thon Maker, Ben Simmons and Dante Exum.
1. Outplay Malcolm Brogdon
During his media day availability, Dellavedova praised Malcolm Brogdon’s maturity and team first attitude. Although, confusingly, he had the following to say when it came to playing alongside 2017’s Rookie of the Year.
“We only got to play a little bit together last year,” Dellavedova noted. “But I think when we did, it worked pretty well on offense and defense, and I’m hoping we can play more together this year.”
Unfortunately for Dellavedova, the statistics tell a different story. The Bucks posted a net rating of minus 8.4 in the 259 minutes when both point guards shared the floor. It's even more concerning, given Giannis Antetokounmpo, Milwaukee’s franchise player, joined them for approximately two thirds of these minutes.
Dellavedova and Brogdon were simply unplayable together last season. The root of the problem was often on the defensive end, where Milwaukee’s defensive rating dropped 10.6 points per hundred possessions in dual point guard alignments. Unless something changes drastically this season, it appears that there is room for only one point guard in Milwaukee.
Brogdon was simply better than Dellavedova. The Bucks performed better in most statistical indicators when the rookie played and Dellavedova rode the bench. While not an excuse, fatigue may partly explain Dellavedova’s downtown last season.
"It was almost three years in a row with no time off," Dellavedova told Fairfax Media back in July. Consecutive trips to the NBA Finals and an Olympics campaign in Rio occupied time ordinarily set aside for rest.
Brogdon, now with NBA experience under his belt, figures to improve during his NBA encore, meaning Dellavedova must return to form if he wishes to see an increase in minutes. The Australian has now had chance to rest and recharge, and is looking forward to having a big year.
Dellavedova will never be confused for a flashy playmaker or dominant scorer, although he has forged a livelihood through being an efficient offensive player. That was a pillar of his game in Cleveland, and unfortunately, something that eroded away last season. Dellavedova’s first year in Milwaukee was the worst shooting performance of four year career.
As his usage rose to previously unseen levels, three point and true shooting percentages slipped to career worst levels. Simply put, Delly lost his shooting touch last season and it submerged his value.
When conducting this exercise ahead of last season, we rattled off a slew of examples that illustrated how Dellavedova benefited from playing alongside LeBron James in Cleveland. My concern, at the time, was that Dellavedova was overly reliant on his Cavs teammates and the drop in supporting talent would eliminate his value. In reviewing his first season in Milwaukee, this may explain some of his decline, although a more simplistic answer is the likely cause of his struggles.
Dellavedova virtually got the same looks last season and just couldn’t convert. During his last season in Cleveland, 210 of his 239 three point attempts (88 percent) were either open (4 to 6 away from the nearest defender) or wide open (6 or more feet away from the nearest defender) as defined by the NBA. Dellavedova shot 46.3 percent on such opportunities.
In Milwaukee, 188 of his 216 attempts (87 percent) were either open or wide open. This time around, Dellavedova shot just 35.1 percent when given the same chances. Such a drop off has nothing to do with surrounding talent.
Dellavedova has also favoured a running floater at times during his NBA career. Results from this shot selection were equally meek.
Opponents were happy running Delly off the three point line, funnelling him into a mid range pocket, rope-a-doping him into launching a floater that would miss with regularity.
Dellavedova must revive his conversion percentage when driving to the basket or limit these attempts. Circling back to our first point, regaining his shooting stroke could also facilitate more minutes alongside Brogdon.
3. Revive The Aussie Connect
When speaking at Summer League, Thon Maker heaped praise on Dellavedova’s mentorship during his rookie season. Maker also referenced The Boomers, and a developing Australian basketball bromance.
“We do certain drills and are like ‘it’s the Aussie Connect,’” Maker said in jest, when explaining his on-court relationship with Delly.
While Maker was partly joking around in the Nevada desert, there is some truth to Dellavedova’s impact on his burgeoning career. Delly assisted on more of Maker’s field goals last season than any other Bucks player, often keeping an eye out for his countryman whenever opposition defences slipped up.
Dellavedova is a smart offensive player, perennially rating high in assist-turnover ratio, and Maker’s range provides an attacking impetus within pick and roll based sets. Whether it be as a roll man or weakside shooter, Maker requires attention when Dellavedova is running the offence.
Improved chemistry between these two Australians could be a sneaky weapon for the Bucks, especially when Antetokounmpo is resting. Selfishly for us, it would also be a great development for The Boomers, as they embark on the road to Tokyo.
Long live the #AussieConnect in Milwaukee this season.