Milwaukee Bucks: Matthew Dellavedova could play minutes at shooting guard

Mandatory Credit: Dan Hamilton-USA TODAY Sports
Mandatory Credit: Dan Hamilton-USA TODAY Sports /

To get the most out of Matthew Dellavedova, the Milwaukee Bucks might want to consider playing him at the two more often next season.

The Milwaukee Bucks signed Matthew Dellavedova to be their starting point guard coming into the 2016-17 NBA season. Delly, thanks to his time running point with LeBron James on the Cleveland Cavaliers, was supposed to be a perfect fit next to Giannis Antetokounmpo.

Unfortunately, Delly just didn’t do all that well as a Buck. Dellavedova had his worst three-point shooting season and his second-worst field goal shooting season in 2016-17, and ended up losing his starting gig to Malcolm Brogdon during the regular season.

Part of the reason often suggested for Dellavedova’s struggles is the fact that he’s no longer playing with LeBron and the super-powered Cavs. That’s valid, and probably does have something to do with Delly’s lower efficiency–LeBron makes life awful easy for his teammates.

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That’s not the only thing that’s changed for Delly from 2015-16 to ’16-17, though. He also played far less minutes at the shooting guard position. According to basketball-reference positional estimates, Delly didn’t play at shooting guard at all in his first season in Milwaukee.

Dellavedova played around 30 percent of his minutes at the two guard spot over his last two years in Cleveland, and actually spent the majority of his playing time at shooting guard in his rookie year.

Were Delly 6’7″, he might be a full-time shooting guard. At 6’4″ he’s a little short to be playing there all of the time, but working off-ball on offense more could certainly help the gritty Australian.

Dellavedova’s three-point percentage was slightly better on catch-and-shoot threes than it was on normal three-pointers last season, and over 86 percent of his three-pointers were assisted in his first Bucks season.

He may be a pesky defender and capable jump shooter, but dribbling isn’t exactly one of Delly’s strengths. His reliance on catch-and-shoot threes and lack of any sort of isolation scoring skill means Delly is more suited to play off of the ball than on it.

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Off-ball, Delly can sprint around, set hardly legal screens and hustle to get open. The defense has to account for him, because he’s adept at nailing those catch-and-shoot threes when he gets a little space.

While Dellavedova has the ball, there’s much less to worry about. He isn’t going to take many opposing guards off the dribble, and he’s not likely to pull up either. That means defenses can set up against him and know that they’re not in danger until a pass is made.

Again, if Dellavedova was a few inches taller he would make an ideal shooting guard. He isn’t, and as much as Bucks fans want to include him and his $9-plus million annual salary in trades for draft picks and/or good players that probably isn’t happening. That means the team would be well served to look at ways to maximize Delly’s abilities.

One interesting way to do that would be simply letting the other Bucks run the offense while letting Delly guard opposing point guards. Players like Brogdon, Giannis and Khris Middleton can both initiate the offense and guard wings and forwards, letting Delly run around off of the ball and still guard point guards.

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Using Dellavedova less like a traditional point guard and more like a smaller Kyle Korver could help both the player and the team find more success in the next three years of Delly in Milwaukee.