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Father Figure

Delly Embraces His New Roles -- at Work and Home
by Joe Gabriele Beat Writer

Father Figure

Delly Embraces His New Roles -- at Work and Home

These days, there are three young dudes under the watchful eye of Cavaliers vet, Matthew Dellavedova.

Two of them – 19-year-old Darius Garland and 20-year-old Collin Sexton – take the floor with him at his job maybe three or four times a week. The other one – one-month-old Anders Ralph Dellavedova – requires nightly attention.

No longer the fresh-faced youngster who worked his way from an unknown on Cleveland’s Summer League roster to an integral piece of the Cavaliers 2016 Championship squad, Delly finds himself in a new role in his first full season back in Cleveland.

Back in 2013, no one could have predicted that Delly would one day become a household name in Cleveland and beyond – almost an iconic member of the Finals squads that will be honored and cherished in perpetuity.

No Cavaliers fan worth his salt could ever forget Dellavedova’s epic Game 3 performance in the 2015 Finals – scoring 20 points while stymying Steph Curry as the Cavs took a 2-1 series lead over the Warriors. While his teammates celebrated or spoke with the media, Delly spent that postgame on the trainer’s table, with an IV plugged into his arm after spending every ounce of energy (and fluid) on the floor.

After spending two-and-a-half seasons with Milwaukee after inking a free agent deal in the 2016 offseason, the undrafted guard out of St. Mary’s College made a hero’s return almost exactly one year ago – part of a three-team trade that also netted John Henson and a pair of picks from the Bucks, sending Sam Dekker to Washington and George Hill to Milwaukee in the process.

On that memorable first night of his reunion tour, with the crowd chanting his name, Delly canned three triples, finishing with 15 points off the bench in a win over New York.

Despite missing the final 17 games of last year with a concussion, Dellavedova finished with 13 double-figure scoring games and led the team in assists on 13 different occasions.

This year, his role has changed once again.

With Cleveland’s dynamic – but very young – starting backcourt of Darius Garland and Collin Sexton, Dellavedova is now the man who restores order when things get out of control. He’s the guy who battles with both during practice.

He is the proverbial “coach on the floor.”

As the Cavaliers season hits the quarter-mark and the calendar turns to December, there’s been some good, some bad and some ugly. For his part, Delly is in charge of making sure some young men get better every day.

While the Wine & Gold prepare for Friday’s meeting with the Magic, the seventh-year man from Maryborough, Australia sat down with to talk about his changing role, Cleveland’s two young guards and, of course, the early days of fatherhood …

Now in his seventh season, Matthew Dellavedova has been a "coach on the floor" for Cleveland this year.
Photo by David Liam Kyle/NBAE via Getty Images

As a mentor to the team’s young guards – who didn’t have a ton of college experience – are they still ‘learning to win’? What was that process like for you?

Matthew Dellavedova: Well, I played four years of college, so that definitely helped a lot. And it was a winning program. So that helped me.

But I mean, these guys are so talented, it's just learning how that talent fits into the NBA game. And I think they're definitely finding out what works. Especially last Friday’s game against Milwaukee. I think DG (Darius Garland) had six assists, Collin had five. (They were) really finding guys, getting Kevin [Love] open threes and things like that. And that shows their progress.

What’s the major difference that they’re seeing?

Dellavedova: I think the coverages are just different compared to what you see in college – and the window to make passes and the time you have to make reads is smaller because the game moves faster. Guys are longer, more athletic and smarter, as well.

So, I think it's just getting used to that, and it's going to take time.

But you can already see the progress that they've made and that's just going to continue as they go through their career – watching game tape, talking it out with coaches and teammates, more practice. The whole lot.

How has your role changed from your first go-round or even from last season when you came back?

Dellavedova: From the first time I was here, you know, older, more of a veteran-type compared to being a younger guy.

But even when I was younger guy, I didn't feel that inexperienced because I had already played internationally quite a bit and four years of college.

So I'm just trying to help guys out with what I'm seeing out there – different reads and things – that they can use and trying to communicate on both ends. Like, a lot of teams run similar actions, or I'll explain different (opposing) players’ tendencies, things like that.

I think that's the point guard's role – to make sure everyone on the floor is organized on both ends of the floor. And then, you know, as one of the leaders of the team, just try to make sure everybody knows what they're doing and keep everyone focused.

You mention your international experience, and your Boomers had a strong showing at this year’s FIBA World Cup. Does that competition sharpen you up for the season?

Dellavedova: Yeah, absolutely.

I mean, you're playing in Finals-type intensity in the summertime. And you're not gonna find that in any pickup game anywhere.

"I'm just trying to help guys out with what I'm seeing out there – different reads and things – that they can use and trying to communicate on both ends."

Matthew Dellavedova, on helping out Cleveland's young guards

What are your impressions of both young guards, individually?

Dellavedova: Well, Darius is extremely shifty – the way he can change directions and dance. You really have to sit down and watch his change of direction – and I think that’s what allows him to get open for threes.

And yeah, he's got different floaters and moves when he gets into the lane. And I think, especially lately, playing with Kevin (Love) – he's done a good job of getting him open and using him as a screener.

And then Bull (Sexton) – I mean, it's just his speed and the ability to get down-hill, either in transition or out of the pick-and-roll. He can get into the paint whenever he wants.

Obviously, he can really score the ball and I think he's continuing to develop – making those reads, which he did a great job of against Milwaukee.

And then for the youngest guard – Anders Dellavedova – how are you enjoying the first month of fatherhood?

Dellavedova: It's the best!

We're very lucky to have a healthy, happy baby. Mom is doing great. It's been awesome just hanging out together. It's hard to describe, but I'm sure all parents know the feeling.

How are you balancing the new baby and the NBA schedule?

Dellavedova: It's definitely tough. We had a couple of road trips there early.

But we've had a awesome stretch here at home; I think it's the longest one I've probably ever had. So that's been perfect timing -- just hanging out, getting to know him, helping out Anna.

It's been great.

Does that officially make Anders a native Clevelander?

Dellavedova: Yeah! (laughs) It’s pretty cool that our firstborn was born in Cleveland.

So, a big shout-out to the Cleveland Clinc. Thanks for all your help!


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