Today in Fear the Sword’s season hiatus player review series: Matthew Dellavedova. Follow the whole series here.
There’s a lot of evidence that Matthew Dellavedova’s time as a useful NBA player is over. Ever since he came back to the Cavs after a stint with the Bucks, he’s never had a lower VORP. Since the 2015-16 season, he hasn’t shot over 40% from three and his overall shooting numbers have fallen off. Defensively, he’s not having the same impact he was during his first Cleveland run — injuries and age appear to have sapped some of his athleticism. The one thing that’s remained is he has a high assist to usage ratio while also turning the ball over at a high rate.
Considering that the Cavs have drafted two guards in the last two drafts and that Dellavedova is in the last year of his deal, his time in Cleveland might be up.
But, weirdly, Dellavedova was playing his best basketball of the season before it was cut short due to the coronavirus pandemic. After picking up two DNPs on Feb. 9 and Feb. 12, he appeared in eight straight games, shot 45.5% on three-pointers while averaging 7 assists against 2 turnovers. It’s the type of minutes and productivity that makes makes you do a double take on Dellavedova’s season, at least for a minute.
The biggest thing to consider about Dellavedova’s season is what the Cavs think of him. He was a favorite of John Beilein’s (not that means much now) and is likely by pretty much everyone in the organization. Along with Tristan Thompson, he’s been the player most often cited by the organization credited as teaching on the court and keeping things organized on the court. It doesn’t show up statistically, but that matters. Think of him as the guard version of 2018-19 Channing Frye.
That, ultimately, is the case that Dellavedova matters beyond this year to the Cavs. He’s a veteran who can help in the locker room and, if he plays, will move the ball more than Collin Sexton and Darius Garland might. He’s also said that he wants to be with the Cavs beyond this season. It’s also a summer where there wasn’t going to much money available and probably even less now due to the coronavirus pandemic. Maybe using the biannual exception — worth $3.8 million next year — is a way to bring him back without having him come back on a minimum deal.
Maybe Cleveland won’t want Dellavedova. Or maybe he’ll want to play for a contender vs. a team that has a shaky chance of making the playoffs next season at best. But he can probably still offer something, even if it doesn’t allows show up in a box score. Cliche as that sounds, it’s true.