Improving Delaney Using Baltimore Roots For Inspiration
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Story by KL Chouinard
Malcolm Delaney is all Baltimore, through and through.
When he found out that schoolchildren in his hometown were attending class in schools with malfunctioning heat systems in frigid January temperatures, he took it upon himself to help kids from the city he loves.
"Once I had seen it, I wanted to try and do whatever I could do to help," Delaney said. "I talked to my agency about getting a donation or just trying to get coats myself to give to the students. We've got one school done now."
Delaney added that his group is in talks with other sponsors who may match his donation. He tweeted Tuesday that he now had coats for three schools.
On the court, Delaney has been a steadily-productive player since jumping back into the rotation in a Dec. 22 road game in Oklahoma City.
"I talked to Coach (Budenholzer) that morning," he said. "I didn't think I was going to play that game. He just told me to stay ready because I was that guy that he knows that he could throw in if we ever needed it."
Indeed, when Dennis Schröder missed the game with an injury, Delaney was needed. There was a special Baltimore connection in that game too: a chance to play against Carmelo Anthony, who grew up and attended school in the Charm City.
"I've known Melo since I was 5," Delaney said. "He was one of my idols coming out of the city. I spent time with him working out some summers when I was in college."
Delaney also noted that while growing up he played for a Baltimore-based AAU team, Team Melo, sponsored by Anthony himself.
In the Dec. 22 game, Anthony scored 24 points, making 7 of 12 threes. Delaney had 20 points and 6 assists, and he made 4 of his 6 attempts from three. The second half even had a bit of an 'anything you can do, I can do better' vibe. For Delaney, getting that type of opportunity against a hometown role model marked a big occasion.
"(Baltimore) guys like (Anthony) and Rudy Gay (have been) telling me to keep my head up and work and my opportunity will come. Hearing that from guys like that, vets grew up watching, and then being able to compete against them is special."
Truth be told, Delaney hasn't necessarily dominated in any one area. Instead, he has been a versatile piece, doing whatever is needed for his team and his head coach.
At times, he has helped his team by being their best defensive wing off the bench, a role for which Head Coach Mike Budenholzer praised Delaney after a win over Bradley Beal and the Washington Wizards.
At other times, Delaney has been the backup point guard, a job he has performed with a tidy efficiency. In 12 games since rejoining the rotation, Delaney has racked up 42 assists and 8 steals while committing just 10 turnovers.
"He's a great facilitator, and he doesn't force any shots," fellow point guard Schröder said. "He makes the right plays, finding people in the corner and finding open teammates for lobs. Defensively, I think he is one of the best at taking charges."
Delaney ranks third on the team with eight charges drawn, sitting only behind Ersan Ilyasova (15, third in NBA) and Schröder (11, 11th in NBA).
Even though Schröder has played three years longer in the NBA than Delaney has, the young German hasn't been shy about trying to glean some knowledge from Delaney, who is four years older (and spent five seasons playing in Europe).
"He is just an incredible player," Schröder said. "I am still learning from him. He's a great player and he's helping me."