Last year was a weird year for Matthew Dellavedova.
For the entire regular season, people screamed and yelled at the fact that the Cleveland Cavaliers need a backup point guard. When the playoffs came around and Kyrie Irving limped through the first three rounds, Dellavedova stepped in his absence and played well enough to help get the Cavs to the Finals. Then, something weird happened; Dellavedova scored 20 points, locked up the MVP and became a cult hero for America.
We all know what happens next -- Dellavedova returns to form and Curry and the Warriors defeat the Cavs in six games to win the title -- but what happened in that span should be important for this upcoming year. For all that happened last year, none of it should happen again this year.
Why? It's simple: he'll never have to be in that role again. That role is for Mo Williams, who the Cavs signed this offseason to backup Irving this year. That means Dellavedova will be the third point guard -- when everyone is healthy -- in Cleveland, a role that is perfect for him.
Looking at the numbers for Dellavedova last year, there isn't much that stands out. He doesn't score and he's not a playmaker in any right. For someone playing 20-plus minutes per night, that's a problem. But for someone who's slotted to play between 12-to-18 minutes per game, it's easier to showcase his strengths and hide his glaring weaknesses.
Dellavedova doesn't do a lot of good things, but the two things he does well are perfect for his new role as the third point guard on the team. One of those strengths is his catch-and-shoot ability from three, which is something he did a lot of last year. Dellavedova hit 41.4 percent of his catch-and-shoot opportunities from behind the arc, which was a tick below Williams, who is considered one of the better catch-and-shoot players at his position.
When healthy, Dellavedova will most likely be playing alongside Irving or Williams, which will help with two things: allowing for more catch-and-shoot opportunities and limiting his chances at attempting to shoot inside the three-point line, with emphasis on the last point. Out of the the 390 players who attempted at least 60 two-pointers last year, Dellavedova finished 390th.
But as said, Dellavedova will never have the pressure to create his own shots, giving him more energy for the defensive end, which is his second strength that was showcased in last year's Finals (for at least one game). To put it lightly, Dellavedova is an annoying defender -- it's no coincidence that Atlanta Hawks' center Al Horford tried to go Dusty Rhodes on him in last year's playoffs.
Nonetheless, his peskiness has its' effect on other players. Last year, players he guarded shot 29.3 percent from behind the arc -- 3.3 percent below the league average for three-pointers. Some of that you can attribute to his defensive ability, some of it you can attribute to his hustle, which he is not short of.
No matter what you may think of Dellavedova's defense, he is clearly the best defensive point guard that the Cavs have. While he guards the best offensive guard on the court, this allows Irving and/or Williams to exert less on energy on the defensive end. It may not mean that much, but in a span of 12-to-14 minutes, it can make all of the difference on one or two possessions.
And that's the thing to remember with Dellavedova; he is an effective player for 10-plus minutes per night. If he has to play him as much as he did last, it'll be troublesome.