MLE Wishlist

2015 MLE Wishlist: Matthew Dellavedova

With free agency about a month away, we at Brooklyn’s Finest are pitching in our collective wishlist of players around the league we’d like to see the Nets sign. Let’s see here… Kevin Love, Marc Gaso- what’s that? The Nets have no cap space? Hmm. Guess it’ll just be players that Brooklyn can try and sign with the annual mid-level exception. This year’s has a first-year salary of $3.376 million. Let’s get to it.

The rugby playin’, kangaroo wrestlin’, smoothie drinkin’ Matthew Dellavedova has put himself on the map as an unexpected hero in the Cavaliers’ journey to the NBA finals. Let’s dive into who “Delly” is and why the Nets should consider taking a look at him in free agency.

Pundits have donned the undrafted Dellavedova with descriptors such as diminutive and dirty, as if he’s Jason Acuna let loose on the NBA stage, scampering around the court and nose-diving at opponents’ knees to generate content for the next Jackass movie. However, both descriptions are cop-outs.

For starters, he has legitimate size for a point guard. According to DraftExpress, he measured in at 6’4” with shoes. He’s no Sun Yue, but his height is paramount to his staying power in the league. Were he a few inches shorter, his dearth of pure athletic ability would be further magnified. Instead his size is an asset, used on offense in cohesion with his improving court vision as he often connects with rolling bigs for alley-oops or spots open shooters on the weak side.

On the defensive end he is much more irritating than dirty. He uses relentless full-court, on-ball pressure to get under the skin of opponents and his reckless brand of hustle tends to put him in, well, “interesting” situations. Anyone that would doubt his intentions simply doesn’t understand the type of character that Dellavedova possesses.

If you focus just on numbers and data, then you probably won’t get the feeling that he is worth more than the minimum. His shortcomings have been dissected at FearTheSword. Dellavedova has his issues on both sides of the ball. On defense the effort is ALWAYS there, he just simply struggles to handle superior athletes. On offense he has issues within the pick and roll, posting a turnover frequency of nearly 25% and a score frequency below 25%. He is occasionally crafty off the dribble, using hesitation to his advantage, but it rarely leads to a scoring opportunity for himself. As his shot chart from this past season demonstrates, he struggles to score from almost anywhere within the 3-point line, a product of his inability to consistently create his own shot.


But sometimes you just have to say to hell with the statistics. Excuse the platitudes, but Delly is heart, grit, perseverance and determination all packaged into one. These traits don’t define who he is a player, but damn it if they don’t tell part of the story. It’s why Bradley Beal mentioned him as one of his least favorite defenders to face. It’s why Mike Brown, and then David Blatt, trusted him to play crunch time minutes in important games. It’s why Kyrie Irving considers him a brother after nearly going full Sprewell on him. It’s why, after several Dellavedova dust-ups with opponents, LeBron James became the Atticus Finch to Delly’s Tom Robinson. And It’s why Al Horford - and every other opponent he faces for that matter -  would love to put him six feet under but also love to have him as a teammate.

Delly will absolutely go to battle for your team every single night; grappling in the trenches, taking enemy fire, and doing everything he possibly can to get his crew’s flag into enemy land. And once his squad wins the war? He’ll kick back at the base and down a Corona (yes, you’ll want to go to the 1:53 mark of this video).

Does this make him worth $3+ million annually? With the rising salary cap and the attention that he has garnered in the playoffs, it’s very likely that some team believes so. Whether the Cavaliers would match this type of deal (Dellavedova is a restricted free agent) is a question for another day.

Then again, maybe the Nets wouldn’t be the team to make that type of contract offer in the first place. Maybe they are content to go forward with Deron Williams and Jarrett Jack as their lead guards. Maybe they believe Delly’s shortcomings outweigh his intangibles.

But by magnifying his weaknesses, isn’t the entire point being lost?  Nobody is saying he could make the leap from bench player to above average starter, à la Eric Bledsoe or George Hill. Delly is what he is and he accepts that. In a way, Delly embodies the type of player that Brooklyn needs more of. A player who is selfless, fiercely competitive and willing to take a bullet for his teammates. The Nets could do much worse with their Mid-Level Exception than Matthew Dellavedova.