Now knowing that this was Matthew Dellavedova’s last season in a Cleveland Cavaliers uniform makes me feel robbed of what could have been a nice farewell tour. A Cavs’ folk hero that will forever be tied to the Finals heroics he displayed in 2015, Delly was far from a tantalizing player his game was defined by his effort more than skill. Unfortunately, in a season where Cleveland was desperate for backup point guard minutes, their toughest player couldn’t show his leadership on the court. Instead, Dellavedova provided his best contributions as a mentor off the court.
At the start of the season, the young Cavs had two players left from their championship roster: Kevin Love and Dellavedova. With so much youth and inexperience, the team needed to rely heavily on veteran voices who have battled in the brightest lights. Ironically, both despite having the most experience missed the most playing time as well. In Dellavedova’s case, his season was brought down by a concussion that caused him to miss 59 games of the shortened 72 game season. The lack of minutes at backup point guard was also apparent right after the Jarrett Allen acquisition where the Cavs sent Dante Exum to the Rockets. That left Collin Sexton, Damyean Dotson, and Cedi Osman to play out those hollow minutes.
It wouldn’t be fair to judge how Dellavedova’s season went by looking at the stats. The off the court value was immense to the development of the guards Darius Garland and Collin Sexton. Sexton stated on the day of Delly’s long-awaited return the value of having a player-coach in the locker room and on the sidelines. Sexton praised Dellavedova vision “He tells you what he sees from the bench. So, when he goes in the game, he will be like, ‘Alright I see this play, so run this.’ Or he will make sure he has the plays in his back pocket.” as reported by Tom Withers of AP News.
The one glimmer of offensive spark we saw from Delly this season was against the New Orleans Pelicans where he dished out 10 assists. It was nice to have a guard start in Garland’s absence and show the type of floor general mentality the offense needed desperately. While the Cavs lost and Delly shot the ball horribly (3-11) it was a bright spot to watch a guard other than Darius ably lead the offense. It has to be stated that the Cavs limped into the game with a skeleton crew led by Dean Wade and Isaiah Hartenstein in the starting five.
As a whole, it was a rough offensive season from Dellavedova posting career lows in field goal percentage (25%) and three-point percentage (16%). The shot for Delly has been a rough spot over the years with what seemed to be a hitch-filled jumper every season since the 2018-2019 season. The only place that offenses should respect his shot was in floater range as he shot 55.6% from that area. Otherwise, the shot chart has to be one of the more dismal I’ve looked at this season. To be fair, this is also due to a small sample size of 13 games and Delly never being a spark plug consistently on offense. Delly was essentially imitating a lesser version of the Ricky Rubio offensive package for the Cavs. A pass-first point guard who occasionally will stretch the floor with three-point shooting.
It was reported that Dellavedova has signed with the NBL team Melbourne United by ESPN’s Olgun Ulcuc. While not surprising given how last season went so poorly from an injury perspective. The Cavaliers were also probably going to be the only team who would have called his number asking for his services. However, Delly’s departure is leaving behind a huge hole in veteran leadership and a championship pedigree. I think I speak for all Cavalier fans when saying that I hope we can one day have him back in some sort of coaching or advisor role in the future once he hangs up the Delly 1’s. For now, let’s enjoy watching Delly and the Boomers play in the Olympics and just enjoy the heart, hustle, and grit that made us fall in love with Dellavedova in the first place.