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Matthew Dellavedova 2020-21 season preview

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What does Delly have left in the tank?

NBA: Cleveland Cavaliers at Miami Heat Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

On a one-year minimum deal, 30-year-old Matthew Dellavedova is back with the Cleveland Cavaliers. The veteran guard has had his role shift since coming back, transitioning to more of a mentorship role vs. core rotation pieces. That said, he could still see some playing time as the season goes in when/if the team needs a steadying hand.

What last season was like

In 57 games last year, Dellavedova played 14.4 minutes per game, averaging 3.1 points and 3.2 assists per game. He had a thumb injury at the end of the preseason after coming into the season with new shooting form and then dealt with a few other injuries during the season. Concerningly, he shot a career-worst 23.1% on three-point attempts overall and 24.3% on catch-and-shoot three-pointers.

On the whole, it seems possible that Dellavedova hit a new point in his career last year. Injuries didn’t help, but he’s now been nagged by injuries year after year after signing with the Bucks after the 2016 season. Last year was the most games he’s played in a season since the 2016-17 season. It was also the third-straight year where he logged fewer than 1,000 minutes.

The one major positive for Dellavedova was that he found a niche as the on-court vet for the Cavs and their young guards. Even if his numbers weren’t great, and he’s not the same guy he was before, he helped organize the offensive flow and keep things moving. There’s value to that. In particular, he developed a nice chemistry with Collin Sexton and would find him with some regularity coming off of cuts and screens.

What his role could look like

Let’s assume that Dellavedova gets regular minutes. At most, it would seem he could get 12-15 minutes playing alongside one of Sexton or Garland. He’s a much cleaner fit with Sexton due to Sexton’s ability to move off-ball and Garland providing some of the same passing, at least in theory.

The other option is that Dellavedova plays spot minutes and isn’t consistently in the rotation. This could mean he only plays in the event of an injury to a guard or if/when a player misses games due to the coronavirus. He’s limited, sure, but a veteran presence who has the trust of the coaching staff and respect of the locker room isn’t a bad option for where the Cavs are at.

Key stat

Without question, Dellavedova’s three-point shooting is the number to watch here. If he shoots close to that poorly again, it’ll be hard to justify playing him consistently even with the intangible benefits he provides. If he again isn’t a reliable three-point threat, there’s no reason that he should play over Dante Exum, for instance.

Exum also isn’t a shooter, but he’s also a bigger, more athletic defender who can run the floor and create with a little bit more juice. It might also be better to give Damyean Dotson minutes to space vs. playing Dellavedova.

Now if he shoots, and it’s clear that his presence helps the flow of the offense, there’s a bigger argument for Dellavedova to play. There won’t be a mandate, but it’s at least worth watching.

Season prediction

Dellavedova’s shot will be mostly fine, but also won’t crack 1,000 minutes for the Cavs. He’ll regularly compete for minutes as the 11th or 12th man, but that’s the most he can be at this point.

Next up later today: Damyean Dotson.