Matthew Dellavedova wasn’t one of the 60 players taken in the 2013 NBA Draft. In fact, he wasn’t even invited to work out at the NBA Draft Combine held in Chicago.
Yet, as the Cleveland Cavaliers are set to square off against the Atlanta Hawks in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference Finals Wednesday night, Dellavedova has become just as, if not more, valuable to his team than any of the 13 point guards drafted in 2013.
Out of the 13 point guards that were drafted, three have played primarily in the D-League, three play professionally in Europe, four are backup point guards playing in limited capacity on losing teams, two are starters, and only one is playing significant minutes on a conference finals team: Dennis Schroeder on the Hawks.
Dellavedova’s former college coach at St. Mary’s, Randy Bennett, told Cleveland.com’s Terry Pluto that he believed the 6’3″ point guard from Australia should have been drafted.
“I’m telling you, he was a better player than some of those guys drafted ahead of him” he said.
Well, Dellavedova is certainly proving that now. After going undrafted, the Cavaliers signed him to a two-year, $US1.3 million contract, which pays him just $US816,000 this season.
After averaging only 19 minutes in his first two regular seasons, Dellavedova has proven to be invaluable during this year’s postseason — playing significant minutes due to a hobbled Kyrie Irving.
Out of the Cavaliers’ nine-man rotation (not including Kevin Love who is injured, and Mike Miller who has played in only three games this postseason), Dellavedova is second in both field goal and three-point percentage, at 46.5% and 39.3% per cent respectively. He has also done an admirable job on defence, which was the biggest criticism against him leading up to the draft.
In the Cavaliers’ Game 6 series-clinching victory over the Chicago Bulls, Dellavedova not only led the team in points with 19, shooting 7-11 from the field and 3-6 from behind the arc, he also held Derrick Rose to just 14 points, shooting 44 per cent and missing all three of his three-point attempts.
Cavaliers coach David Blatt told USA Today’s Jeff Zillgitt what makes him so good:
“First of all he understands his role and where his opportunities are. He has no fear. He makes the right plays. He defends his man every moment he’s on the court. He knows who he’s playing with. He knows where the ball should go. He feeds off the opportunities that are created by him for the other guys. When you ask specific pick-and-roll actions, he makes plays. He competes. That kid’s a competitor. He’s not where he is without being a competitor.”
With Irving slowed by an injury, Dellavedova is going to be a key contributor against the Hawks.
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