Milwaukee Bucks: Can Matthew Dellavedova’s role be more than just veteran leadership?

SAN ANTONIO, TX - NOVEMBER 10: (Photos by Mark Sobhani/NBAE via Getty Images)
SAN ANTONIO, TX - NOVEMBER 10: (Photos by Mark Sobhani/NBAE via Getty Images) /

Following an injury shortened year, the Milwaukee Bucks are hoping Matthew Dellavedova can fill a meaningful role on the court in what will be his third season with the team.

More than two years into his stint with the Milwaukee Bucks, it would be safe to say that Matthew Dellavedova is still looking to find his footing with the team on the court.

Brought in on a four-year, $38 million deal during the spending frenzy that was the summer of 2016, Dellavedova, like many free agents that offseason, had struck it rich after clawing his way to stay in the league over his first three seasons.

After all, Dellavedova became a true rags to riches story by rising from an unheralded recruit from Australia, playing for a mid-major Division 1 school in St. Mary’s College in California, going undrafted in the 2013 NBA Draft and filling a necessary role that led to him winning an NBA championship with the Cleveland Cavaliers (all topics that will surely be covered in his in-the-works biopic).

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For all his faults as well as his physical and athletic limitations, Dellavedova had proven himself to be capable of spacing the floor and knocking down three-point looks offensively while playing the role of a scrappy, hard-nosed defensive irritant that certainly had his fair share of memorable incidents during the Cavs’ playoff runs in 2015 and 2016.

The Bucks knew all of this when they leapt to lock him down on what ended up being a sign-and-trade deal with the Cavs at a time when their point guard crop was devoid of proven NBA-caliber contributors.

Despite the grand designs the team’s front office envisioned at the time of his signing, however, Delly’s fit has fallen far from being fully realized over the course of the last two seasons.

Of course, injuries have played a part in this as was the case when the 28-year-old manged to only make 38 appearances in the regular season last year as a result of dealing with both knee tendinitis and picking up a badly sprained ankle throughout the year.

But in the time of his arrival to nearly a month from the start of his third season in Milwaukee, Delly has been demoted from opening day starter to third guard on the team’s depth chart, due to the talent upgrades that both Eric Bledsoe and Malcolm Brogdon stand to be.

That has left the Australian international having to find other avenues to make his mark on the squad as he continues to shake off his struggles in some shape or form.

There have been a number of anecdotes when it comes to Dellavedova doing his part to build the culture within the Bucks’ locker room, and providing tips and pointers to teammates when sidelined or on the bench during games.

For example, Dellavedova, along with superstar Giannis Antetokounmpo and Khris Middleton, led the charge to get the roster together for a week of voluntary workouts with the new coaching staff in New York City as Thon Maker told Matt Velazquez of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel during the official grand opening of Fiserv Forum late last month:

"“We got everyone there, pretty much,” he said. “I think that just shows the guys are completely committed and dedicated to getting the process started, getting everybody to jell together early on. I thought it was a really good job by the guys — Khris and Giannis put it together, and Delly.”"

It’s very easy to be dismissive of tidbits such as that one from our collective vantage point, but for a team that was clearly disappointed with the results of last year, it may end up going a long way in righting the things that the players themselves had control over.

Obviously, the personnel and coaching staff changes that have been made throughout the last several months influenced the decision to gain some familiarity with one another before training camp gets underway.

Without witnessing things in this vein firsthand, a player of Delly’s stature, that being a mere cog within the Bucks’ supporting cast, can often be an afterthought in regard to discussions about making the roster one cohesive unit both on and off the court. Subpar production like the former Gael has put up over the last two years can only make matters worse in that way.

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For his third season with the Bucks, Dellavedova will look to improve on the diminishing returns that have come to define his on court play to this point in his tenure. If he can, and that may be a big if at this stage, his off the court influence will be a great bonus.