The SportingJournal

It’s Delly Time

At the beginning of the 2013/14 NBA season, the Cleveland Cavaliers roster consisted of four rookies, including the number one overall pick  in the NBA draft, Anthony Bennett out of UNLV. Aussie Matthew Dellavedova, the last of these rookies to sign with the Cavs prior to the season proper, has had the best season of all of them so far – and has logged considerably more minutes than the NBA’s number one draft pick.

Dellavedova was originally left to fight it out on the Cavs Summer League roster for one of the remaining  two spots on the Cavaliers regular season squad. No one at the Cavaliers expected to see a whole lot out of the tournament and despite putting up numbers that left a lot to be desired during the tournament, Delly was given a chance by head coach Mike Brown with a $1.3 million 2 year deal. This was because, Dellavedova is not the type of player who will stuff a stat sheet. He’s the one who will put in all the “one percenters” that go a long way to helping the team win, evidenced by his excellent record at St. Mary’s College (15.8 ppg and 6.4 apg in Senior Year to go along with an overall four year record of 105-28 starting at the point). Delly hustles, gets in the face of his opponent, dives on loose balls, and provides a positive energy that is infectious and inspirational.

Whilst Delly was given a chance, and was highly rated by those at the Boomers (Australian national team) and St. Mary’s College, it seemed apparent before the season began that he still had a lot to prove to Cleveland’s players, coaches and fans. He wasn’t expected to log a lot of minutes – he was after all an undrafted rookie, playing behind star point guard Kyrie Irving and one of the most highly sought after bench players in the league in Jarret Jack. It would’ve been understandable for Delly to just ride the bench for the majority of the season, play in garbage time and pick up his pay cheque when it’s all said and done, as so many players tend to do these days.

Instead, Delly put in work. He learned the Cavs playbook, he put in extra work at the gym, and kept at it until opening night had arrived. He only registered one minute in his first game, then six the next. But by the time Cleveland faced Washington in just his fifth and sixth NBA appearances (played the Wizards in a back-to-back), Dellavedova would find himself playing 31 and 27 minutes respectively, whilst the other three Cavalier rookies would only log a total of 13 minutes and 26 seconds combined. Not bad for the young Boomer from Maryborough. In both of those games Dellavedova was playing at the death and was instrumental in bringing home a win in the first game and inspiring a 23 point comeback that ultimately fell just short in a game that the Cavaliers appeared to be largely disinterested in until Delly entered the game and played suffocating defense on young star Bradley Beal  while also knocking down three three-pointers.

After the loss to Washington that night, Mike Brown had this to say about the Australian rookie.

“We didn’t compete. We had one guy compete the entire time he was on the floor—Matthew Dellavedova,” Brown said.

On the back of a heap of praise from the coach, players and fans alike, Dellavedova continues to get more and more attention as each game goes by thanks to his hustling, never say die attitude that saw him break all kinds of records at St. Mary’s in his 4 year tenure at the college.

This recognition led to a spot in the starting lineup the following game at New Orleans. Delly’s energy and will to win was evident and is something the Cavs will be hoping can rub off on the rest of his teammates. He is averaging 16 minutes per game, 4.3 points at 42% from the field, along with 1.3 rebounds and 1.5 assists per game in 32 games (4 starts), as well as helping the Cavs average an extra 5 points while he is on the court as opposed to being on the bench.

Dellavedova’s numbers might not be flashy, nor his playing style, but players who can hustle, bring energy on a nightly basis and provide a team with crucial “one percenters” are invaluable. Dellavedova, along with all stars Kyrie Irving and the recently acquired Luol Deng will be hoping to change the fortunes of Cleveland and begin to turn their season around – playoffs are still a very realistic goal for the 15-26 Cavs and if anyone is going to the will them towards that, its going to be Irving, Deng and of course, Dellavedova.

 

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