Cleveland is a working class town and we love when we have an athlete who overcomes the odds and gets to the highest level with limited ability.
Players like Brian Brennan, John McDonald, and even Brian Hoyer quickly become fan favorites, although each of them have critics because they don’t possess the gifts of the true stars of their respective sports have.
The Cavaliers have one of these players now in reserve guard Matthew Dellavedova.
Delly is a grinder, the kind of player that coaches love. Mike Brown loved his grit, determination and fundamentally sound game as a rookie last year, and David Blatt has the same feeling toward the Australian.
Earlier this year, when the Cavs were ravaged with injuries, Dellavedova was forced to play a lot, getting around 30 minutes per game during a period from Christmas through the first week of January.
Unfortunately, the Cavaliers’ record during that period was 2-7. That wasn’t the second year player’s fault, but it does point out that if your team is playing him that much, they probably aren’t very good.
For the season, when Delly plays more than 25 minutes in a game this season, the wine and gold’s record is 3-6.
That doesn’t mean he has no place on the roster and should be cut. In fact, if the Cavs were to get rid of him, he would snapped up by several teams immediately.
Why? Because he does the things that most NBA players don’t do.
First, he works hard on defense, and doesn’t cower to anyone in the league. Last season, Brown had him guard Oklahoma City’s Kevin Durant, who is a seven footer, because Dellavedova is going to bother him and make him work for every point he gets.
Second, he doesn’t need the ball in his hands. Look at the problems the team had with Dion Waiters, who needed touches and shots for him to be engaged.
The Aussie knows his role and isn’t out there looking to score. He’s had one game this season, a loss to Dallas at The Q, where he has taken as many as 10 shots.
However, if his minutes are kept in the 10-15 range, he can be a very effective player. In the Cavs’ current 11 game winning streak, Dellavedova has had a positive +/- rating in seven of them.
He is becoming a better shooter as well. Most of his opportunities come from spotting up from behind the three-point line, and he’s improved from last season’s 36.8% mark to a very good 42.4% in 2014-15, which by the way in tops on the Cavaliers.
He does need work at the free throw line, as his 64% shooting from there makes him a liability if Blatt is going to have him out there at crunch time.
We would rather see Iman Shumpert out there if Blatt wants defense or J.R. Smith if the Cavs need scoring in the fourth quarter, but Blatt has shown a tendency to stay with the hot guy, so if Delly has it going, he is going to get the opportunity.
Matthew Dellavedova is a guy who can get minutes on a good NBA team, but his coaches have to be aware that he is best served with limited minutes. It’s a talent based league, and players like him can be exposed if they play too much.
Hopefully, David Blatt will grow to understand that. Grit and determination only go so far in the professional basketball.
But fans who think he shouldn’t get minutes are wrong. He’s fine if he plays around 10-15 minutes per night.