Sunday 21 January 2018 / 03:36 PM

Aussies in the picture: Matthew Dallevedova

Easter Sunday, Quicken Loans Arena, Cleveland Ohio. The Bulls are trying to get back in the game, trailing the Cavaliers by 10 points early in the fourth quarter. After a defensive stop, the rebound falls in the hands of J.R. Smith, who throws it ahead to start the fast break. The horrid pass is long, too long; but Matthew Dellavedova does not give up on the play and keeps the ball inbound to Mozgov while diving into the stands near the baseline. Mozgov passes it to Smith on the wing for an open three. 84-71, time out Chicago.

Walking back to the huddle, LeBron James looked over to Dellavedova in disbelief. He might not be the most athletic guard in the league, but he sure has heart, and he shows it every time he steps on the court.

The second-year guard out of Saint Mary’s, California, went undrafted in 2013, but he was able to impress the Cleveland coaching staff at the Summer League and was signed on a two-year deal. In his second season in the NBA, Dellavedova averages 4.5 PPG, 1.8 REB and 2.7 AST in around 19 minutes per game. No flashy numbers, but that is not what the 6-foot-4 guard from Maryborough, in regional Victoria, is about.

On occasion he might be the least talented player on the floor, but he is the type of player who just hustles and works his butt off. He brings energy to the team off the bench and keeps running the floor, which is why the other players and coaches in Cleveland like him.

“I am a team player and competitor first,” Matthew said. “I try to bring energy defensively, move the ball and knock down those open threes when they’re out there.”

He has a fantastic work ethic and is a consummate professional and loyal teammate. Cavaliers coach David Blatt seems to trust the Australian and lets him take charge of the offense when Irving and James are on the bench.

Dellavedova might have his shortcomings athletically, but his grit and persistence makes him very appreciated within the team. On defense, he has a hard time staying in front of the faster point guards with which the league is flooded with today, but he is a very good off-the-ball defender: tenacious is his ball denial and always ready to sacrifice his body to take a charge.

On offense, he is good spot-up three-point shooter, especially from the right corner and above the break, where he shoots almost 44.4 per cent. When we take a deeper look, what most stands out statistically is that Matthew takes care of the ball. Of all the players with at least a thousand minutes of playing time this season, only three players have a better Assist-to-turnover (AST/TOV) ratio than him (3.33): Chris Paul, Ty Lawson and J.J. Barea, guys who have been in the League for a while.

He rarely tries things that are out of his skill range and seems to be very coachable, so he doesn’t make a lot of mistakes. For a sophomore back-up point guard, that is all you can ask for. 

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Tim Glibert

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