Out of all the rookies on the Cleveland Cavaliers roster, the one who has most impressed me happens to be the only one they did not draft: Matthew Dellavedova.
The club signed the undrafted rookie on Sept. 12, after being on the team’s summer league roster. Right off the bat, there were questions about whether he would make the team during camp.
When he did make the team, there were questions about whether he would see court time, unless in mop-up minutes. But so far, he has done been inserted in both of those situations. And now, through 21 games, “Delly” has outshined the other three Cleveland rookies.
He is the only first-year man on the roster playing like he has something to prove, and it has paid off. At first glance, his numbers do not jump off of the page. He is averaging 3.4 points, 1.1 assists and 1.0 rebounds. Modest at best, but this has all been done while getting an average of 13.4 minutes per game.
When you look at how his numbers match up per 36 minutes and his PER, you see a very productive player thus far, especially when you consider the fact that he was undrafted out of smaller college. Per 36 minutes, Delly is averaging 9.7 points, 2.6 assists and 3.1 rebounds. His true shooting percentage is 41 percent as well.
When looked at in this context, his numbers are not that bad for a guy who I did not think would leave the bench all year. And according to basketball-reference.com, his player efficiency rating (PER), is 11.3. The league average is 15.
But, after comparing the PERs of the other Cleveland rookies, it is startling:
Anthony Bennett: 1.6.
Sergey Karasev: 4.8.
Carrick Felix: 1.9.
And once again, Matthew Dellavedova: 11.3.
They say numbers never lie, and this is case where I believe it is true. Delly has been the most impressive rookie according to the numbers. But when you watch the games too, the tape backs it up.
He is the only one playing like he has something to prove. His energy and hustle is noticeably better than his fellow rookies, and it is probably why he remained on the NBA roster while Karasev and Felix were sent to Canton.
It is clear Delly is competing with a chip on his shoulder. And he is proving that he belongs in the NBA.
Although he has a while to go until he becomes an everyday contributor in the league, I am happy to watch the undrafted rookie prove himself in Wine and Gold.