Matthew Dellavedova Could Take The Milwaukee Bucks To The Next Level

Jun 9, 2015; Cleveland, OH, USA; Cleveland Cavaliers guard Matthew Dellavedova (8) talks with forward LeBron James (23) during the first quarter against the Golden State Warriors in game three of the NBA Finals at Quicken Loans Arena. Mandatory Credit: Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports
Jun 9, 2015; Cleveland, OH, USA; Cleveland Cavaliers guard Matthew Dellavedova (8) talks with forward LeBron James (23) during the first quarter against the Golden State Warriors in game three of the NBA Finals at Quicken Loans Arena. Mandatory Credit: Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports /

Matthew Dellavedova is going to help out all of his new teammates on the Milwaukee Bucks, but Giannis Antetokounmpo in particular should be excited about Delly.

DISCLAIMER–Matthew Dellavedova is not technically a member of the Milwaukee Bucks. He can’t be signed until July 7th, and even then it’ll be three more days before he could become a Buck since the Cleveland Cavaliers have the right to match the offer sheet he signed with Milwaukee.

That being said, LeBron James has already said his goodbyes to Delly, so it’s very likely that he’ll be the newest Milwaukee Buck eight days from now.

Bucks fans have been reacting to this news with various degrees of enthusiasm. It feels like the general consensus is that Dellavedova is an okay player who was signed to a fairly reasonable deal considering the skyrocketing salary cap, and that the Bucks haven’t done anything atrocious at least.

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The problem with the way Dellavedova is being perceived is that it’s not about what he’s going to do. Looking strictly at his contributions–hard-nosed defense, three-point shooting and a never-say-die attitude–leaves fans wanting more.

And it should. Those three things are nice, but they’re hardly rare these days in the NBA. Tough, gritty three-and-d players are everywhere.

Fortunately, it’s not what Delly himself will bring to the Bucks that makes this a great signing. It’s actually more about what he’s not going to do.

Signing Matthew Dellavedova to this contract means the Milwaukee Bucks are very serious about giving Giannis Antetokounmpo control of Milwaukee’s offense for the foreseeable future.

Dellavedova is a point guard in name alone. He’s not going to really run the offense in Milwaukee, just as he often didn’t in Cleveland. Instead he’ll simply be helping Point Giannis run the show, and guarding opposing point guards on the defensive end.

Delly is a good facilitator in more than one way. On a basic level, his 6.5 assists per 36 minutes mark last season is a good but not terrific number for an NBA point guard.

On a deeper level, Dellavedova made the Cavaliers’ most important player even better. LeBron James will be very good with just about anyone on the floor, that much is obvious.

But he was even better with Matthew Dellavedova sharing the floor with him, and so were the Cavaliers.

LeBron shot 51.7 percent from the floor and had a true shooting percentage of 57.7 without Delly on the floor, and his Cavaliers outscored opponents by 7.2 points per 100 possessions in the 1527 minutes he played without Delly, per NBAwowy.

With both Dellavedova and LeBron on the court, Cleveland obliterated opponents by 16.8 points per 100 possessions. LeBron too saw a slight boost in his numbers, with his field goal percentage bumping up to 51.9 and his true shooting percentage getting up to 60.1 with Delly aside him.

Dellavedova detractors will be quick to point out that Delly couldn’t survive without LeBron in the same way King James managed to remain dominant without Dellavedova.

And it’s true–the Cavaliers got outscored by 1.3 points per 100 possessions in Delly lineups without LeBron. Dellavedova shot just 36.3 percent without LeBron on the floor with him.

This is where it becomes increasingly important to remember what Dellavedova does as an individual is ultimately unimportant in determining his effectiveness on the Bucks.

Getting around ten points on 40 percent-ish three-point shooting and five or so assists per game (a brief and unscientific projection of what Dellavedova will average next season) is obviously helpful, but it’s nothing compared to giving Giannis an ideal point guard to work with.

Last season he worked in scrap lineups featuring mostly non-shooters or ball-hogs (or both) at point guard, and still averaged 18.8 points, 8.6 rebounds and 7.2 assists per game running the floor after the All-Star Break.

Now insert Dellavedova, who is neither a ball-hog or a non-shooter, and imagine what Giannis could be capable of. Saying Delly isn’t a non-shooter is actually almost disrespectful to him–he was lights-out in the regular season last year.

Just four NBA players to take at least one catch-and-shoot three-pointer per game and play at least half the season had a better effective field goal percentage on those catch-and-shoot attempts than Delly: Troy Daniels, Jeff Teague, Seth Curry and Stephen Curry.

Over 80 percent of Dellavedova’s threes were assisted last season, meaning he takes a lot of catch-and-shoot jumpers. With another knock-down shooter aside him in Khris Middleton, the Bucks will finally have some spacing on offense.

Delly adding some scoring punch from deep matters, but the threat of him doing so is even more important. Opening up some space for the other Bucks–especially Giannis–to work in is bigger for Milwaukee than a few more made threes per game.

Either defenses respect Dellavedova and take a defender out of the paint, or they don’t. Many of those Dellavedova threes in Cleveland looked something like this, a direct result of his defender sagging off to try and stop LeBron James from driving:

It’s not hard to envision Giannis being the one distracting defenses and dishing to Delly. With the other weapons the Bucks already have, Dellavedova should get his fair share of open threes.

He’s not entirely helpless on his own either, and will pull the trigger on a shot if he’s open.

Jabari Parker sort of throws a wrench in things, but the Milwaukee Bucks now have the tools to replicate Cleveland’s best lineup from last season.

The Cavaliers outscored opponents by a blistering 24.2 points per 100 possessions with a point forward, Dellavedova, two shooters and a defensively-gifted center on the floor.

Milwaukee could use that same formula in a Dellavedova/Middleton/Giannis/Mirza Teletovic/John Henson lineup. The Cleveland version has more star power, but that’s an easy recipe for the new-look Bucks to follow.

Milwaukee hasn’t just avoided making mistakes this summer–the Bucks are nailing their personnel moves. Getting Dellavedova may be more about Giannis Antetokounmpo than Delly himself, but that’s something the 25-year-old Australian might not have much of a problem with.

Following a 19-point scoring explosion that led the Cavs over the Chicago Bulls in a series-clinching win in the 2015 NBA Playoffs, here’s what Dellavedova had to say about his performance:

"They put so much attention on ‘Bron, and you know he’s going to find you when you’re open. Obviously Kyrie was out for the second half so, you know, I knew I was going to be out there. So it’s easy to let shots go when your teammates have that much confidence in you."

Dellavedova is all about his teammates, and winning basketball games. He showcased that after being asked about envisioning the moment he was currently in back in the 2015 postseason–sitting next to LeBron James at the podium after a series-clinching game.

"I mean, I don’t picture–this is all the extra fluff stuff. What matters is what happens in the game. You know, I pictured myself making important plays in the game and things like that. So it was nice to be able to help the team out tonight."

Bringing in Matthew Dellavedova is a classic example of addition by subtraction for the Milwaukee Bucks. Taking the ball away from the point guard position and handing it to the Greek Freak can only be a good thing for the Bucks going forward.

Next: Grading The Mirza Teletovic Signing

Let’s just hope Cleveland lets Delly get away so Bucks fans can see Point Giannis really get unleashed in Milwaukee next season.