How Does He Fit? Matthew Dellavedova Re-Signs With The Cavaliers


The last few weeks have been relatively quiet for the Cleveland Cavaliers on the free agency front. While some of that was due to prolonged talks between the team and their own free agents, a part was also because the Cavaliers were still looking to find the right deal for Brendan Haywood’s unique contract. The common thought was that once Haywood was moved, business would begin to pick up again for the Cavaliers, and that certainly seems to be the case now.

One day after Haywood and (somewhat surprisingly) Mike Miller were dealt to the Portland Trail Blazers to create a pair of trade exceptions, the Cavaliers came to terms on a one-year $1.2 million deal with Matthew Dellavedova. The questions is, with Mo Williams now in the fold, how does Dellavedova fit with this team?

The answer to that question is probably better than ever. After a 2013-2014 season in which he lead all rookies in Real Plus-Minus, the Cavaliers made Dellavedova their primary backup to Kyrie Irving by trading Jarrett Jack to the Brooklyn Nets. For most of the season, Dellavedova didn’t seem up to the task. he shot an abysmal 36.2% from the field, and his RPM dropped from 1.72 to -0.60. While the second number isn’t as bad as it looks, it seemed as though the rest of the league had figured out the scrappy Australian.

Dellavedova also has a poor handle for a point guard and struggles greatly to score inside, major negatives for a point guard, let alone one on a team with a drive-and-kick offense. The Cavaliers were openly looking for an upgrade at backup point guard throughout the season, and fans everywhere were openly calling for the team to stick Dellavedova on the bench.

Then came the playoffs. With Kyrie Irving battling injury, Dellavedova stepped up when his team needed him the most. Whether it was dropping a team-high nineteen points in a closeout game against, the Chicago Bulls, scoring another twenty to help give the Cavaliers a 2-1 series lead, in the NBA Finals, or just taking players like Taj Gibson and Al Horford out of their games, Dellavedova rose to the occasion. Unfortunately, Dellavedova came crashing back to earth as he shot just 19% in the last three games of the Finals, all Cavalier losses. The Cavaliers then signed Williams, upgrading their playmaking at the backup point guard position.

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None of this means that there isn’t a place for Dellavedova on the Cavaliers. At 6’4”, Dellavedova has the size to play both guard positions, helping the Cavaliers’ depth in case of injury, mismatches, or J.R. Smith being J.R. Smith (I’m serious). He is a good three point shooter with a career average of 38.8% from beyond the arc, allowing him to play off the ball and help space the floor. He also has a 3.34 assist-to-turnover ratio, one of the best marks in the NBA. While not a great playmaker, Dellavedova does take care of the ball, and rarely makes mistakes that kill his team. Finally, he is a solid (if overrated) defender, an important skill for nights when Irving and Williams (who aren’t known for their prowess on that end of the court) are getting torched by the opposition.

Dellavedova may not have been the answer as Kyrie Irving’s backup, but he does have his strengths, and will likely make an excellent fifth guard for the Cavaliers. If there’s one things the Cavaliers learned in the playoffs, it’s the importance having depth on a roster. With the return of Matthew Dellavedova, the Cavaliers are building one of the deeper backcourts in the league.

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