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Can Fresh Delly Satistify Cavs’ Backup Point Guard Appetite?

David Liam Kyle/NBAE via Getty Images

What is the role of Cavs’ 2nd string point guard, Matthew Dellavadova, and how vital is that role?

Matthew Dellavedova, the miniature ‘Wild Thing’. The entire NBA world underestimates how valuable he can be to the Cleveland Cavaliers. Lets take a solid look at why that is.

‘Delly’ is one of the only back up Point Guards the Cavs have behind an injury prone Kyrie Irving. With LeBron back in the picture, Dion’s game becoming more versatile and the recent acquisition of AJ Price from Indiana, the Cavs seem to have plenty of secondary backcourt options; but Delly seems to be the first option the Cavs go to. He’s still like the kid on the end of a bench in middle school, looking at the coach every time he paces back and forth. When Delly has his name called, he has his warm-ups ripped off before the coach is finished saying his name incredibly long name, and brings to the court his intangible energy and intensity.

Dellavedova grew up in a small town in Australia, deep in country Victoria, in a town named Maryborough. I had the pleasure of playing against Delly at a junior level, even then he was an incredibly hard working player. His approach to the game hasn’t changed, but his skill level has improved to a point that you wouldn’t recognize him. He has worked on everything that you see on the NBA hardwood today, a living testament to the great words of LeBron James, ‘In North East Ohio, everything is earned, not given.’ I know from experience that the reliable corner three-point jumper we see at the Q is something that was earned, and not given.

{adinserter 2}Delly’s greatest asset is his defensive game. When he checks into a game, you can see the opposing point guard roll his eyes, because he knows he’s about to have to work hard to just progress the ball up the floor. He works through screens, he’s always on his toes, and on both ends of the floor he is a leader.

In Kyrie Irving’s absence during the past few preseason games, Delly has started three of four games, playing with both starters and reserves. Although the Cavs haven’t fielded a full force lineup in the preseason, Cleveland hasn’t faced major issues with Matthew at the point. The floor is well spaced under the new offense implemented by Blatt, with Delly at the top of the key, barking out orders.

The Cavs may have also discovered something they didn’t know they had on Wednesday night: AJ Price. When Dellavedova took his well-deserved breaks, Price came out and ran the team with the same precision. There’s now a competition stirring in Cleveland; Price is after Dellavedova’s backup role.

Delly and Price are very different players, Price does not provide the same defensive intensity that Dellavedova does, and Price is a little more of a shoot first point guard. In a rotation with superstars like LeBron James and Kevin Love, a backup Point Guard has to be ready to accept fifth scoring option role and think to pass first. Delly will be more than happy with that role, shooting his corner jump shots and hustling back on defense.

However, some do not believe Delly has what it takes to be the full time, backup Point Guard in Cleveland. In two preseason games, Dellavedova led the entire Cavs team in minutes; he scored three points in thirty-one minutes against Dallas, and had two points in thirty-one minutes against Milwaukee. In fourteen minutes against Milwaukee, AJ Price had nine points, and in twenty-one minutes against his former Pacers team, Price had fourteen points.

The question is, do we need another shoot first point guard/ player on the floor? The Cavs have as deep a team as any, and we need someone to hustle, play defense, and facilitate our high-octane offence. In six preseason games, Delly averaged 4.6 assists in 26 minutes a night. AJ Price averaged 1.8 assists in 15 minutes a night. Although these aren’t huge numbers on Delly’s behalf, they give him an edge over Price. It’s not the numbers that make the difference; it’s the mindset. Delly is a pass first guard that gets himself in the right spot off the ball. Price on the other hand, is a shoot first guard, while there’s nothing wrong with that, that’s just not what this Cavalier team needs from its back up point guard. Price can lead the second unit and be an offensive force with Joe Harris, but Delly proves to be a more conducive guard who can assist the scoring starters right off the bench as a direct substitute for Irving.

Another Aussie I saw rise to NBA stardom is recent NBA Champion of the San Antonio Spurs, Patty Mills. Patty was pivotal in the Spurs’ win over LeBron and his former Miami Heat. His off-the-ball movement, sharp shooting and tenacious defense is what helped the Spurs shift momentum in their favor when their starters were struggling. Come playoff time, Delly can provide similar support when the Cavs’ first options become neutralized or burnt out.

Recently, Eastern Conference foe Bradley Beal of the Washington Wizards labeled Dellavedova among the three toughest one-on-one defenders in the entire league. Naming him amongst Tony Allen and Iman Shumpert. Don’t forget, this is only Dellavedova’s sophomore season. In his rookie season, he managed to play in 72 games and ranked third amongst all rookies in three point shooting percentage.

Dellavedova has shown that even in the absence of our star point guard, the offense can still run as smoothly. While he’s not the best playmaker, he’s a fundamentally sound Point Guard who’s intensity can make all the difference. Matthew has no history of an injury bug, and is more than capable of holding his own out there against the best players in the world.

In Matthew Dellavedova’s hands, you can trust Cavs Nation.

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David Liam Kyle/NBAE via Getty Images

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