Matthew Dellavedova had his doubters. But right now, there are probably a whole bunch of people out there saying, "I told you so."
He was a four-year standout at Saint Mary's, making them relevant on the national stage for much of his time as a collegiate athlete. Dellavedova also played a summer for Australia's Under-19 FIBA World Championship team, and eventually was selected to the national team that competed in the London Olympics.
His senior year in school, Dellavedova averaged 15.8 points and 6.4 assists per game, though athletic limitations kept the needle on his draft stock from budging.
He's not fooling anyone out there. Dellavedova isn't the quickest, strongest or most explosive. But he's a fighter. Dellavedova is as competitive as any guard you'll see, likely one of the reasons he's skyrocketed up coach Mike Brown's depth chart.
He'll be suiting up alongside Kyrie Irving in the backcourt. And if you're wondering exactly what type of player you'll be seeing, think the opposite of Dion Waiters.
Dellavedova is your classic pass-first guard. And given the makeup of Cleveland's lineup, maybe that's exactly what they need.
Dellavedova is a facilitator—his core strength is creating quality scoring opportunities for teammates and keeping the offense flowing. His head is always up and roaming—Dellavedova does a nice job of finding his shooters, cutters and screeners as a passer in the half court.
And at 6'4'', he's doesn't have a problem of seeing over the defense. This should allow him to actually facilitate as a 2 when the offense is running through Irving.
Despite his ability to handle the ball, Dellavedova's lack of quickness makes it tough for him to break down defenses. He doesn't have that first step that allows him to beat his man off the dribble—which is why it's a good thing the basketball Gods invented the ball screen.
In college, there weren't many point guards better at using ball screens than Dellavedova.
He had seemingly mastered the art of the pick-and-roll. With a top-shelf basketball IQ and some terrific vision, Dellavedova developed a great feel for facilitating it. He's able to freeze and disable defenders with the hesitation dribble, drawing unnecessary help and causing defensive confusion.
Like a savvy quarterback, Dellavedova is able to slow the game down, go through his options and locate the best one before hitting him in stride.
He's a phenomenal passer and crafty facilitator, but Dellavedova can also finish plays as a scorer. His jumper is reliable while his floater game is effective. Dellavedova can knock down shots over traffic on the move, which makes him a triple threat out of ball screens (pass, drive, shoot).
But while Dellavedova saw a ton of ball screens at the college level, that may not be the case in limited minutes alongside a guy like Irving. Though a floor general at Saint Mary's, his role in Cleveland won't be as ball-dominant.
Role in Cleveland
Alongside Irving, Dellavedova will play the role as a ball mover and shooter. With him on the floor, the Cavs should see better shot selection and ball movement all around.
He can also give the Cavs a shooting target off the ball. Dellavedova knocked down at least 35 percent of his three-point attempts in all four years at Saint Mary's, and if he wants to succeed in the pros he'll need that accuracy to translate.
Dellavedova isn't a guy who's going to fill up box scores or take over fourth quarters. But he'll add balance to a lineup that desperately needs it.
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