What odds would the TAB have given Matthew Dellavedova, a kid from the small town of Maryborough with a population of 7,630, to make an NBA roster?
What odds would the TAB have given this same kid who was passed on 60 times during the 2013 NBA draft to be able to earn his way into an NBA starting line-up after only 6 NBA games?
Regardless today Matthew Dellavedova will make his first start in the NBA, lining up as starting shooting guard for the Cavaliers game against the New Orleans Pelicans.
To put in into context how realistic it is to achieve a feat such as this, only five Australians have ever been able to earn their way into the starting line-up of an NBA game.
Australian born players who have started an NBA regular season game
Andrew Bogut – 444 starts
Luc Longley – 362 starts
Kyrie Irving – 122 starts
Chris Anstey – 23 starts
Patty Mills – 5 starts
Nathan Jawai – 2 starts
- Players in bold are currently still active
In June Matthew Dellavedova had just finished his senior year in at the University of St Mary’s where he finished as the schools all-time leading scorer and put up 15.8 points and 6.4 assists per game in his senior year. Although these are respectable numbers compared to other highly drafted guards in 2013, concerns about his athleticism and defensive abilities kept his NBA draft stock low and he was ultimately undrafted.
NCAA Senior Year Comparisons
Matthew Dellavedova (St Mary’s) – 15.8 ppg & 6.4 apg
Victor Olidipo (Indiana) – 13.6 ppg & 2.1 apg
Ben McLemore (Kansas) – 15.9 ppg & 2,0 apg
Trey Burke (Michigan) – 18.6 ppg & 6.7 apg
With no NBA team willing to take a gamble on the 193cm, 91kg kid, the feedback being he was too slow to play in the NBA, Dellavedova’s only option was to join the Cleveland Cavaliers summer league team with 14 other NBA hopefuls and fight for one of the few roster spots the team had for 2013-14.
After his pre-season performance Dellavedova was one of two players who were rewarded with an invitation to join the Cavaliers veterans camp, the other being Carrick Felix who is yet to play an NBA game.
After proving his worth through a grueling veterans camp Dellavedova signed a two-year partially-guaranteed $US1.3 million ($A1.35 million) contract to play for the Cleveland Cavaliers in September. This contract makes him one of the lowest paid players in the NBA, but I’m sure you won’t hear him complaining.
Since then Cleveland has had its sporadic tastes of Dellavedova’s game in recent weeks seeing him play filler minutes, providing relief in the absence of shooting guard Dion Waiters. He hasn’t scored much, he hasn’t nailed any game winners, but what he has done, the screen setting, the hustle, the emotion which although this fails to show up in the box score, has made him a bit of a cult figure already within the Cleveland faithful.
This was never more evident than after the teams game against Washington on Wednesday night as Dellavedova’s hustle and energy allowed his team to get back into a contest which they had no business being in, cementing him within a Cavaliers rotation that is in dire need of anything that represents effort.
After Wednesday’s 98-91 loss to Washington Dellavedova was the only player singled out for praise by Cleveland’s Coach Mike Brown.
“We had one guy that competed the entire time he was on the floor — that’s Matthew Dellavedova” Coach Brown said. It was during the waning minutes, while the rest of his teammates loafed through what was ultimately a seven point loss, Dellavedova turned Bradley Beal, who had done whatever he wanted to on the floor prior to this point, into a brick-laying personification of frustration.
Through three quarters Beal had notched up 22 points from 17 shots against the Cavaliers yet in the fourth quarter, despite playing all 12 minutes, he was held to four points by the undrafted rookie from Country Victoria.
Dellavedova left the floor with a plus/minus rating of +21 after 26 minutes of play without even recording a free throw, assist or steal. A style which Philadelphia 76ers coach Brett Brown has labelled as unflashy, but effective.
“He’s a little bit Neanderthal in how he goes about his business, but he’s for real, Matthew Dellavedova is a winner. He’s not glamorous. But he’s effective and a helluva teammate”.
In classic Delly style he said he had “no reaction” towards the news that he’d earned his first NBA start, concerned with that as much as the odds stacked against him throughout his entire career.
Matthew Dellavedova currently is averaging 2.8 points, 1.7 rebounds and 1 assist per game after playing 6 NBA games.
In his first NBA start Matthew Dellavedova played 12 minutes and whilst he got into quick foul trouble again finished with plus/minus rating of +8 points, second best for Cleveland players.
He also added two rebounds and an assist in the Cavaliers 104-100 victory against New Orleans.